A challenging responsibility - care for older parents in Turkish immigrant families
Keywords:Eldercare, Family care, Migration, Intergenerational relations, gender, generations
Objective: This article explores care for older immigrants from Turkey, particularly with regard to receiving support from their family in a welfare state such as Denmark.
Background: The first labour migrants to Europe are currently entering old age in growing numbers. While research on the intersection between immigration and aging is expanding, knowledge about how older immigrants receive care is still limited, making this a timely study.
Method: The article draws on interviews with 30 individuals – older parents, children and grandchildren – from 22 families both with and without pressing care needs. Two of the families utilized a Danish care policy where a family member is remunerated by the municipality for carrying out specified care tasks.
Results: The data show that, in many families, both older and younger family members consider providing family care very important. The needs for such provisions are deepened due to the older immigrants’ often limited command of the Danish language, which makes them unable to communicate with Danish care workers. In some families, older members refuse to receive public help, increasing the need for support from their next of kin.
Conclusion: While the existence of large family networks can facilitate provisions of family care through sharing, family responsibilities can also be stressful in a dual-earner society such as Denmark. Primary caretakers are often female, and such women’s engagement in providing family care may lead already vulnerable individuals to become further marginalized in society.
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