Article by Jan King
Nearest but not Necessarily Dearest
A study of older mothers in the Boston Massachusetts area, recently published in The Gerontologist, shows that traditional expectations of who will care for elderly mothers haven’t changed much since the early years of the last century. Then, as now, daughters are expected to step into the breach when things go wrong. In my own family, my mother’s aunt, the youngest daughter, stayed at home to care for her ageing parents and never married. She became, by all accounts, a bitter old woman, and no wonder.
But there’s a subtle yet important difference between then and now. Elderly mothers know perfectly well who they would prefer to care for them, but they don’t always get their way. These days, thanks to distance and the fact...