Parents, be good to your daughters. Though some polls indicate sons are more sought after than daughters among parents, especially in certain cultures, daughters are more likely to look after you in old age, a new study says.
When it comes to caregiving, daughters provide more than twice the amount of care, on average, for their aging parents than sons, the paper released today by the American Sociological Association found. The study looked at data from over 26,000 participants over 50, from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement study, and found that daughters spend an average of 12.3 hours per month caring for their older parents while sons spend only 5.6 hours caregiving.
“Whereas the amount of elderly parent care daughters provide is associated with constraints they face, such as employment or childcare, sons’ caregiving is associated only with the presence or absence of other helpers, such as sisters or a parent’s spouse,” study author Angelina Grigoryeva of Princeton University said in a release. She went on to note that sons tend to curb their caregiving efforts when they have a sister, while daughters tend to increase their caregiving when they have brothers. "This suggests that sons pass on parent caregiving responsibilities to their sisters," Grigoryeva said.
The supposed gender inequality when it comes to parental caregiving raises concerns for the wellbeing of female caregivers, researchers say. While caregiving can be rewarding, it is no doubt also physically and emotionally demanding.
In fact, a 2011 Gallup poll suggested that caregivers who also juggle full-time jobs tend to have poorer health than full-time workers without the added responsibility of caring for a loved one. Higher blood pressure and aches and pains were more prevalent among caregivers. Other studies have also shown that caring for people with dementia in particular can lead to sleep issues in around two-thirds of caregivers.
If you're a caregiver feeling stressed, the Mayo Clinic suggests joining a support group, learning to ask for -- and accept -- help from others. Most importantly, you should make certain you consider your own health needs first.