Sunday, April 25, 2010
Being a Caretaker
In our last class, we talked about dependents and the care they require. When we began talking about caring for the elderly in our family (or unrelated elderly dependents), the conversation became personal for me. Four years ago, my aunt passed away from a terminal lung disease. When I was a senior in high school, my afterschool role was that of a caretaker for her and her husband. Although her husband could still provide some care for her, she needed constant help with every task, from making and eating meals to changing her clothes to brushing her teeth. While it was sad to see my aunt deteriorate, I also learned so much from her during the time we spent together. I think that it is vital that we understand the importance of what we can learn from the older generations of our family about our own heritage and how we became who we are today. If someone else assumes this role as caretaker, we miss out on not only knowing a little more about ourselves, but also a certain sense of pride that comes with caring for someone in need. I do think that in America today, this role of caretaker is devalued because of the way our society has been set up. Unpaid work does not merit the same kind of value as paid work, and this is a main reason that jobs and duties related to the domestic and private sphere are not recognized as worthwhile or important. This is a cultural phenomenon, and not one that is inherent to the human race, since we can see other cultures that set up their systems of care much differently than ours.