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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published June 06 2010

Bursack: ‘Daughter Trap’ bold, informative

Dear Readers: I recently received a book in the mail that definitely lives up to the accompanying news release.

“The Daughter Trap: Taking Care of Mom and … You” is written by Laurel Kennedy, founder of the boomer consulting firm Age Lessons. Kennedy has an impressive resume in the business world, but our concern is elder care.

“Daughter Trap” is likely to annoy or even anger some readers, but most will nod their heads with some understanding of Kennedy’s thesis that it’s the women who become caregivers, whether or not they are ready, willing or even realistically able.

Kennedy makes a valid point that the traditional concept that women should take over elder care is left over from a time when extended families lived together and most women stayed at home. Now, most women have outside employment, yet the expectation remains that women will be the caregivers.

Personally, I do believe most of us who take on the caregiving role do so out of love. Yes, most caregivers are women. Whether this is nature or nurture can be discussed without end.

While Kennedy ac­know­ledges that more men are taking on caregiving than before, she says that in the 200-plus interviews she conducted with caregivers, many men who claimed to be caregivers basically wrote out a check. I know enough male hands-on caregivers to believe that not all of her male interviewees could have fallen into this category, but numbers speak.

Kennedy pulls no punches when she expresses her views, and she makes valid points. An interviewer quotes Kennedy as saying, “The caregiver trifecta is time, money and emotional stress … to a person; the women … felt that they were shortchanging everybody and satisfying nobody by taking on the caregiving burden.”

When asked what female caregivers wanted most, the answer, not surprisingly, was “help.”

“They feel like they’re doing it all alone … that the entire caregiving burden rests on their shoulders.”

“Daughter Trap” isn’t negative. It isn’t anti-caregiving. Kennedy believes in spreading the work around, getting families involved, finding resources to help with care and supporting each other.

The book addresses sibling rivalry, which far too often rears its ugly head during parent care. She gives people permission to feel bad. She suggests positive moves to make caregiving easier and applauds many modern technical innovations, right up to using robots for some care needs.

“Daughter Trap” was written from the heart as well as the head. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kennedy knows elder care from hands-on experience.

It is published by Thomas Dunn Books and is available online and in bookstores.


Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.