Cultural Expectation on Caring for Aging Parents

Amy Bernhardt and Dr. Colleen Delaney


Aging is part of our life but now that we are living longer than ever, caring for our
aging parents or relatives are becoming a bigger part of our lives.  By 2050, the population of older adults 65 years and over may go well over 80 million which will create heavy demands on caregiving (Harris 244).    Many different factors can come into play in how we look at caregiving like relationships, age, health, finance, and culture to name a few which can create different experiences for each family.  Due to the sensitivity of the subject, the experiences of caregiving is not often discussed.  Each family caring for their aging parents or relatives are kept within the family members or in complete isolation.  This research will focus on how cultural value and expectations influence the way each culture approaches caregiving.  Understanding the differences in cultural expectations on caring for aging populations can help better understand the needs of the rapidly growing demands of caregiving. 
In most cultures, it is the responsibility of the adult children to care for their own aging parents or relatives but each culture has its own values and norms as well as traditions they follow on how and who should be responsible.  This paper will compare how people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds understand their expectations and how those expectations are fulfilled.  The research will be conducted through journal articles and interviews as well as surveys of different cultures, ethnic, and age groups to see whether there are similarities or differences among these groups.


  1. I really loved your capstone research because it is definitely not something that is talked about. It is one of those things that we don’t really consider until the time comes. I know that caregiving can be an expensive and stressful situation for the elder and the caretaker. My ex-boss talks about how hard it is to take care of her parents as well as her in laws. They have their flaws with their mental and physical being, and for her it is very draining taking care of them and worrying about them every second. I think that is one of the reasons we don’t want to do because it can be hard to do. I am Hispanic and I know that my family expects me to take care of them in the future. But honestly, I don’t want that pressure down the line. As you mentioned, it is typically the responsibility of the first born to take care of the family and even the aging parents. I personally don’t have a good relationship with my parents but I know that they are still expecting me to be there. It is already becoming a heavy burden because it is something that shouldn’t be expected or forced because the culture says so. You brought up many important points on cultures perspective with their aging parents. It was enlightening to see your results after working so hard on it. Great work Amy!

  2. Hi Amy, I love how your poster turned out! The visual balance is great, and I think your decision to use personal pictures makes your research even more poignant. Well done covering such an interesting and important topic! I hope it will help more families open dialogues about their own expectations and experiences with aging relatives.

  3. The work done for this presentation really highlights the importance of engaging in conversations about these cultural expectations for aging parents for people of many age groups. I am curious at what age this conversation normally appears cross-culturally, as it is a significant one for families around the world as you point out, Amy. Very well done in regards to bringing up numerous topics that each call attention to the importance of such a huge issue that many likely don’t consider until it is happening in their lives and they feel like they don’t have much control over it. Thank you for bringing this to my attention at the very least. Fantastic work! I hope you continue to research.

  4. Hi Amy, great topic! in my culture, it feels as though I am the one expected to care for my parents as the oldest daughter. I think particularly in my family, it depends on who seems to be the most “responsible” out of the siblings. Over time, I have taken more resposibility. The diologue has been opened in my family such as my parents saying they don’t want to end up in a nursing home, therefor they will have someone caring for them in the future just like my grandparents have a caregiver.

  5. Hello Amy! I think you did a great job on your capstone and I love your poster, I found it very informative and very organized. I really liked how your project focused on the cultural value and expectations of one’s culture and caregiving. I’m really glad you decided to do your research on this because it’s nothing something I’m very familiar with. I come from Hispanic background so I I like the fact that you brought up how it’s the responsibility of the daughter to take care of their parents when they get older.

  6. As a fellow member of the “sandwich” generation, I appreciate your thoughtful analysis, and loved the family photos. I hope all participants of the research conference read the poster and start to think about this important topic. Just like Amanda’s presentation on death in American society– important to think about these topics earlier rather than later.

  7. Nice job Amy! I think this is such an important topic that not a lot of people consider or even really talk about with their parents. I see how hard you worked on this and the passion you have for a topic that is very close to your own personal life, it really brings the subject into perspective and makes the audience really consider these things and the options that are available to them and their parents. It could also change the way that we care for our parents currently, and could open up discussions about changing the cost of putting them in housing if we ourselves can’t care for them in the home, or find a balance between caring for the parents in the home, other responsibilities, and gaining support for the caregivers. Well done!

  8. Thank you Amy! I think that this topic sheds light on something that is not talked about. This makes me think about my own culture and personal circumstances. This is an important conversation to have before the times comes when our parents need our care in their old age. This is a topic that needs to be normalized so that we are prepared for what is to come in our future when deciding what care is appropriate for our loved ones.

  9. Amy I love your project! This is such a great topic and it is only going to increase in relevancy over time. The taboos surrounding caregiving will have to be dropped soon, and I think you did a great job starting some important conversations! I had a great time reading your poster and I am really looking forward to your paper. Awesome job!

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