Caring for the Older Generations, and the Next

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. March is Women’s History Month. Every day should be a day to celebrate the lives, strengths, and accomplishments of women.

It’s no secret that women make up the majority of caregivers for both seniors and children. It has been researched and written about for years. In families, of course, the care burden is primarily placed on the shoulders of female spouses and daughters. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women…and one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.”

If we look at the numbers for adult care homes, we can see there isn’t a significant difference between family and professional caregivers, in this regard. There are almost 1,600 adult care homes in Oregon, and based on a quick sampling of the State’s provider list, it is plain to see the majority are owned by women.

I think we’re starting to see a slow paradigm shift where there is less expectation that caregiving is “women’s work,” and where more men are proudly taking on caregiving roles. Anecdotally, I’ve seen a significant increase in the number of men opening adult care homes over the past few years and being the primary caregivers, or working along side their female partners. This is a good thing.

The adult care home business provides women with the opportunity to be their own bosses yet also care for children or aging parents while working at home and making a solid income. What other business truly provides this opportunity for women?

Even with this slow shift taking place, the majority of caregivers are still women. According to a 2018 Portland State University report on adult foster homes in Oregon, 88% of providers live in the adult care home, and a third had children under 17 living at home. From this, we can conclude that many women are both providing care for residents and their children. This is both a benefit and a challenge. It really is more of a benefit, though, if we consider these women would be caring for children, or having to find care for children, regardless of where they worked.

In this regard, one significant benefit of owning an adult care home is that parents can stay home with their children while working. The adult care home business provides women with the opportunity to be their own bosses yet also care for children or aging parents while working at home and making a solid income. What other business truly provides this opportunity for women?

So, on this International Women’s Day, let’s take the opportunity to recognize and appreciate the work of women around the world, and also here at home. Let’s continue to recognize the important work of adult care home providers and support those providers who are making an important contribution to both the older generations, and the next.