Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care, and Loss

ISBN : 9780190261092

Naomi Cahn; Amy Ziettlow
240 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
May 2017
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Homeward Bound shows that as family structure becomes more complex, so too does elder care, and existing institutions and legal approaches are not prepared to handle those complexities. As 79 million American Baby Boomers approach old age, their diverse family structures mean the burden of care will fall on a different cast of family members than in the past. Our current approaches are based on an outdated caregiving model that presumes life-long connection between the parents and offspring, with the existence of high internal norm cohesion among family members providing a valuable safety net for caregiving. Single parent and remarried parent-led families are far more complicated, fragile, and point to the need for increased formal support from the religious, medical, legal, and public policy communities. We base our analysis on in-depth, qualitative interviews with surviving grown children and stepchildren whose mother, father, stepparent, or ex-stepparent died. Their stories illustrate the profound ways that the caregiving, mourning, and inheritance process has changed in ways not adequately reflected in formal legal, medical, and religious tools. The solutions center on awareness and preparation: providing more support for individual planning for incapacity and death and, even more importantly, creating legal, political, and social planning for the "graying of America" at a time of increasingly complex familial ties.


Chapter One: The New Normal in American Family Caregiving
Chapter Two: Caregiving Begins
Chapter Three: The Costs of Care
Chapter Four: Decision-Making: With Advance Direction
Chapter Five: Decision-Making: Looking for Direction
Interlude: A Caregiver Becomes a Griever
Chapter Six: Mourning Rubrics and Burial
Chapter Seven: The Intricacies of Wealth Transfer
Chapter Eight: 21st Century Caregiving
Appendix A: Study Methodology
Appendix B: Helpful Resources
Appendix C: Bereavement Interview Tool
Appendix D: Funeral Seating Chart

About the author: 

Amy Ziettlow is Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for American Values and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and Huffington Post. Naomi Cahn is Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University, and co-author of Red Families v. Blue Families and Marriage Markets (both with Oxford University Press).

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