gate or shared housing enable older persons to create supportive communities
among themselves. Finally, because the aging process is intimately connected to
such factors as income, housing, nutrition, and employment opportunities, it is
essential to support public policies that redistribute power and economic resources in our society.
Susan Strasser has argued that, by concentrating on economic and political
concerns, feminists have allowed the New Right to preempt the issues of caregiving and nurturance.
93 I have tried to show that we cannot afford to do so. As
a result of demographic changes, caregiving is no longer confined to childrearing, but rather may extend throughout the life course. We need to struggle
against policies that seek to reimpose the burden of care for the dependent population on individual households, and we must campaign for programs to alleviate stresses on caregivers. But we also should strive to create a society where the
work of nurturance is recognized as an essential human activity and where it is
both rewarded and esteemed.
An earlier version of this article was presented at the National Women's Studies Association Meeting at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, June 19-23, 1985.
The Cowley quotation is from the New York Times Magazine 26 May 1985.
Newsweek, 6 May 1985, 60-68.
The program was broadcast 21 May 1985.
Ellen Goodman, "Living A Lie Within Our Shame of Aging", Los Angeles Times, 22 May 1985, sec. 2, 5.
Nancy N. Eustis,
Jay N. Greenberg, and
Sharon K. Patten, Long-Term Care for Older
Persons: A Policy Perspective ( Monterey: Brooks/Cole, 1984), 2.
Chai R. Feldblum, "Home Health Care for the Elderly: Programs, Problems, and Potentials", Harvard Journal on Legislation 22 ( Winter 1985): 194, 195.
Sara E. Rix, Older Women: The Economics of Aging ( Washington, D.C.: Women's Research and Education Institute of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, 1984).
Study cited in Alan Walker, "Care for Elderly People: A Conflict Between Women
and the State," in A Labour of Love: Women, Work and Caring, ed.
Janet Finch and
( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983), 123; see also Amy Horowitz, "Sons
and Daughters as Caregivers to Older Parents: Differences in Role Performance and Consequences," Gerontologist 2vol ( 1985): 612.
Elizabeth Kutza, "Allocating Long-Term Care Services," in Policy Options for LongTerm Care, ed.
Frank Farrow, and
Harold Richman ( Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1981), 127. The four federal programs funding long-term care services
to the elderly are Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, and the Social Services
Block Grant. Both Medicare and Medicaid are highly biased toward institutional care;
less than 2 percent of their funds subsidize home-or community-based services.
In fact, the United States is exceptional among industrialized nations for its reliance on institutionalized care. In Britain, for example, only 3 percent of the elderly reside in long-term care facilities, compared with 5 percent in the United States. Home