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Lecture 39 Families of Mid-Life and the Elderly .docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

1 th Sociology 2U06: Family Sociology March 12 2012 Lecture 39: Families of Mid-Life and the Elderly Why should we care about families and individuals in mid-life? - These issues will impact us as we age - These issues might already impact you, especially if you live with your parents Families in Mid-Life - Have not been the focus of sociological research o Usually more on younger fams st - “…one of the most fundamental social policy challenges facing western socs in the early 21 C” (pg 237) - One of the reasons for this is the contradiction of an aging pop and INC female labour force participation o The women who would traditionally care for older Canadians are now in the labour force Defining mid-life - Mid-life: half our life expectancy – 40 for Canadians today (highest its ever been) - Myth that mid-life begins when kids grow up and leave home – but life course patterns have become o More individuated  Following different life course trajectories o With more cluttered nests rather than empty nests  Delayed home leavers Mid-life in Canada - In the 19 C most women spent their entire adult life raising dependent kids o Few women had a long period in mid-life where they were not taking care of kids o Most men did not live long enough to see their youngest kid reach adulthood th o This changed in 20 c - The period during which adult child and their adult parents are alive is longer now than any other time in Canadian history - Historically a majority of Canadian households were 2 generation households - Canadians will spend more years caring for their aging parents than raising their own kids - Longer life expectancies have changed family life and caregiving in dramatic ways - Canadians have more parents than kids (2 parents, 2 or less kids) o This is true for the first time in hist - Single parent households are NOT more common today than in the past 2 o Widowhood was a more common reason in the past, as opposed to divorce and separation today o Single mothers were just as economically impoverished in the past as they are today Remaining Single - Remaining single was more common in the past o Mid-life bachelors and spinsters were very common  Especially among immigrant groups like the chinese who were unable to bring their wives to Canada because of discriminatory immigration policy Diversity in mid-life - We see diversity in rela type (single, (re)married, cohabiting and length of rela) and in number and age of children – some might be starting to have kids in their forties, while others might be grandparents - Individuals of one cohort may have had very diff life experiences in comparison to individs of a different cohort o Thus the elderly of today may be v diff from the elderly of tomorrow Families and Work - Caring work is often intensified in mid-life families o Facing sandwich-generation crunch Seniors - Living arrangements o Tend to live in small households o Senior women as widows – more likely to live
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