The Gerontologist, Vol 32, Issue 5 607-617, Copyright © 1992 by The Gerontological Society of America
Women as family caregivers: why do they care?
N Guberman, P Maheu and C Maille
University of Quebec, Department of Social Work, Montreal.
This study was based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 francophone
Quebecois family caregivers of frail elderly or mentally ill relatives and
focused on the caregiving relation rather than on the specificities of
aging and mental illness. Fourteen factors (love, guilt and duty, women's
social identity built around caring, absence of appropriate public or
private care alternatives, women's socioeconomic dependence, etc.) emerged
from an analysis of informants' accounts of how they came to be the primary
caregiver. Data indicate that analyses attempting to understand women's
caregiving must take into account the sexual division of labor, its
reinforcement through social policy, and how women internalize ideas and
norms regarding appropriate gender-role behavior.