Why Does Nursing Care Often Fall Upon Daughters? Understanding the Gender Bias. (Part I)

woman helping elderly couple

Becoming a caregiver for aging parents often falls disproportionately on daughters. As mothers and fathers decline in health, daughters overwhelmingly take on caregiving duties. This difficult transition can be exponentially more stressful when finances enter the picture. The potential cost of nursing home care weighs heavy, but Maryland daughters have a lifeline in Medical Assistance Long-Term Care (Medicaid).

Part I of this article explores the gendered family dynamics when daughters become caregivers later in life. We discuss the emotional and physical toll of caring for parents. This “daughter track” phenomenon reveals itself when health deteriorates, and hands-on care is needed. While rewarding, being a caregiver still takes immense time and energy. Understanding Medicaid helps ease the financial burden.

Part II explains how a Medicaid attorney can assist daughters navigating the complex application process. From assessing parents’ finances to compiling documentation, having an expert guide makes accessing benefits smoother. Attorneys as advocate ensure that the daughter can make the most of resources when seeking Medicaid for care costs. With proper planning, they can qualify parents for coverage while still preserving assets, and without losing their own sanity.

Being a caregiver yourself or finding care for parents is difficult. But Maryland daughters have an essential option in long-term care Medicaid. Expert help pursuing these benefits can relieve financial stress for women on the daughter track. Aid is available to honor caregiving daughters’ dedication as safety nets for aging mothers and fathers.

The increasing demand for elder care due to a growing aging population has resulted in many adult children stepping up to fill the gap. Often, it’s daughters who find themselves in this role. But why is this the case? Why is there a gender bias when it comes to elder care? And how can assistance programs like Maryland Medicaid help? In this article, we will explore these questions and consider how we can shift the paradigm to ensure equal caregiving responsibilities. Is it possible for siblings, regardless of gender, to equally share caregiving responsibilities for an aging parent?

I spent my senior year of college (some thirty years ago) working at AARP’s legislative and public policy group, and only began to comprehend the different expectations between sons and daughters in connection with the care giver’s journey. Over the last twenty-five (25) years in law practice, I’ve seen these gendered roles play out in daily practice, and experienced the variations in outcomes as a result.

The Underlying Causes of Gender Bias in Elder Care

The landscape of elder care is undeniably influenced by longstanding societal expectations, with caregiving often considered as a predominantly feminine role. This notion is rooted in traditional gender norms that associate caregiving with women, leading to daughters often becoming the default caregivers for their aging parents. Men, on the other hand, are not usually expected to assume these roles and when they do participate in caregiving, their duties often revolve around financial management rather than personal care tasks such as bathing, feeding, and dressing.

While we can’t deny the contribution of sons in the caregiving sphere, studies consistently highlight their tendency to avoid the more intimate tasks associated with personal care. This differential involvement reflects age-old norms and perceptions around gender roles that subtly steer men and women into different forms of caregiving.

This gender-biased division of elder care duties, deeply engrained in our societal fabric, plays a pivotal role in shaping who ultimately assumes the primary caregiving responsibility. It’s a cycle that tends to perpetuate itself – daughters see their mothers caring for grandparents, and they, in turn, take on the same role for their own parents.

The gender bias in elder care is not merely a result of societal norms but also personal choices driven by these norms. These choices become patterns, patterns become expectations, and expectations become norms. This cyclical process needs to be recognized and addressed if we want to achieve a more balanced distribution of caregiving duties.

The Impact on the Parent-Child Relationship

The transition from a child to a caregiver for one’s parent is no simple task. It’s a profound change that can completely alter the dynamics of the relationship. For daughters who become the primary caregivers, this journey often includes a role reversal, where they transition from the ones being taken care of, to the ones offering care and support.

The impact of this role-reversal can be emotionally taxing. While providing care can be fulfilling, it also poses challenges. Daughters may grapple with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and stress as they witness their parents’ health decline. Additionally, they may also experience feelings of loss for their previous roles and the relationships they once had with their parents.

While providing care, it’s essential for daughters to remember to care for themselves as well. Open and honest communication is critical during this time. Daughters need to express their feelings, concerns, and needs with their parents. It’s also essential to have conversations with other family members about the changing dynamics. Transparency can reduce misunderstanding and foster stronger relationships.

However, the stress doesn’t stop there. The burden of caregiving often extends beyond the emotional toll and seeps into the realm of the caregiver’s social life. As daughters become more immersed in their caregiving roles, they may find themselves increasingly isolated from friends and peers. This could be due to time constraints, or feelings of guilt for wanting to pursue their own lives. Such scenarios can escalate stress levels and potentially lead to caregiver burnout.

Self-care is not selfish. Taking the time to prioritize self-care, utilizing support systems, and seeking professional help when needed are important factors in managing these stressors. Remember, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself – in fact, it’s necessary. Only by keeping themselves healthy, can daughters continue to provide the best possible care for their parents.

Let’s not forget, caregiving can also be a rewarding experience. It’s an opportunity to connect with parents on a deeper level and show them love and appreciation. It’s a chance to reciprocate the care they once provided for their children. With the right support and resources, the caregiving journey can be a meaningful part of the parent-child relationship.

In the end, the focus should be on ensuring the well-being of both the parent and the caregiver. It’s about achieving a balance where care is given and received, and the relationship is nurtured and treasured.


JDKatz Intake Form for Medicaid Applications
Maryland Medical Assistance Long-Term Care Checklist

By: Jeffrey D. Katz, Esq., Managing Partner, JDKatz, P.C.