More than 700,000 Israelis are the primary caregivers for their elderly parents despite having little or no training in the field, new research released Thursday – in time for International Family Day this weekend – has found.
The findings form the basis of The Elderly and the Family by Prof. Itzhak Brick, director-general of Eshel, the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel, and University of Haifa Prof. Ariella Levinstein, and published by the JDC last week.
“In Israel today, the family creates the main infrastructure on which most people base their lives,” commented Brick. “This means that there are important and ongoing connections that last a lifetime for most people. And in turn, the family becomes the central support for people as they age.”
According to the research undertaken by Brick and Levinstein, between 80 and 90 percent of Israelis are the primary caregivers for their aging parents, even though they might lack knowledge of how to provide such care.
In addition, some 63% of Israelis believe that they must live close by their parents in order to help them as they age; a percentage much higher than that of other countries such as England, where it is only 31%, and Germany, 29%.
Also, nearly half (41%) of children with elderly parents said they must make sacrifices in their own lives in order to take care of their parents, and the overwhelming majority of those interviewed for the research (71%) said they felt that elderly parents deserved their care as a kind of payback for all the work they did for them as children.
In their book, Brick and Levinstein point out that this level of
commitment to caring for aging parents is far higher in Israel than in
other European countries such as Germany, Britain and Norway. They cite
Germany, where only 23% see caring for elderly parents as a duty, and
Norway, where only 40% said they felt this way.
In terms of the type of support given by children to their parents as
they grow old, the research found that more than half of the people
interviewed saw their role as providing emotional support to their
parents, 28% saying they helped them out regularly with shopping, 10%
with housework, 11% with repairs and 9% with financial support.