The caregiver role is feminized in the world specifically in the case of Alzheimer's with no apparent explanation .
The role of caregiver for the elderly is mostly performed by women. / Photo: Unsplash
The Woman Post | Maria Lourdes Zimmermann
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Leer en español: Casi el 70% de cuidadores de enfermos de Alzheimer son mujeres
The majority of wives and daughters, to a significantly higher degree than husbands, sons or male siblings, are in charge of caring for relatives suffering from Alzheimer's disease according to a study.
The conclusion has been published by the “Journal of Alzheimer's Disease”, in a study by the ACE Foundation of Barcelona, highlighting the inequality in the distribution of family responsibilities.
According to research, almost 70% percent of Alzheimer's caregivers are women, while only 22.3% are men.
The study was carried out thanks to the analysis in a sample of 10,000 people that comprised groups of patients and their caregivers, of both sexes, concluding that in 67.2% of cases, women are the ones who assume responsibility for the care of the patient ; compared to 32.8% of cases in which men have assumed the role.
Of the total studied, 4,000 people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, 70% are women. However, only in 22.3% of the cases, it is the man who assumes the role of caregiver. Specifically, in most situations, the husband delegates this function to the daughters of the marriage or the partner of the eldest son according to the publication.
For Pilar Cañabate, anthropologist and head of the Social Work department of the ACE Foundation, "also in the care of people with dementia, the division of gender roles highlights the inequality in the distribution of family responsibilities."
Cañabate affirms that: "It is common for women to develop the role of caregiver, as a prolongation of the maternal role or as an extension of domestic tasks."
The expert further explains that in 32.4% of the 4,000 cases analyzed, the role of caregiver for the person with dementia is assumed by the wife. In 27.6%, this role is assumed by the daughter; while the cases in which the male children assume care are kept at a significant distance, and represent 9.1% of the situations.
The remaining 8.6% correspond to heterogeneous profiles, including other family members or professional caregivers; However, even in this group, the profiles of caregivers performed by women are the majority and constitute 7.2% of the total.
Only in 22.3% of the cases studied has the husband acted as caregiver, even taking into account that 70% of the sick people are women.
Cañabate pointed out that the traditional division of tasks is also what determines the attitude that man presents when faced with the responsibility of care.
Why do women have the caring role?
According to Ángeles Briñon, a feminist and Spanish blogger, author of the book Walking towards Equality, "Patriarchal society instituted the sexual division of labor, confining women to the private space (read domestic) and leaving the public space for men . " Much progress has been made, but the public / private dichotomy continues to persist in some aspects, such as caring, explains the writer on the Ágora blog.
Families are increasingly egalitarian, household chores are shared, but this evolution undergoes a "stop" when there is a dependent child or person in the family, either due to age or because they have a disability. In those moments, one regresses in what has already been achieved and it is the mother, the wife or the daughter who assume the task of caring, with all that it entails, both on a professional, social, economic or emotional level, Briñon analyzes.
Gender stereotypes have been and continue to be a determining factor for the development of people, mainly women who have been confined to the domestic space, limiting their professional and personal possibilities. The role of caregivers currently has a difficult justification, concludes the writer.