Card image cap
Card image cap

Baby Boomer daughters-in-law taking care of elderly dependent relatives at home in South Korea: A Study of Primary Caregivers

Yoonji Oh

Research Framework: When care is often considered the concern of others, the caregiving role is most often considered a female duty. In South Korea, where the gender division of labor is clearly apparent, daughters-in-law tend to be the primary caregiver for elderly relatives who require long-term care.

Objectives: This research aims to show not only the experience of primary caregivers caring for elderly dependents (mothers-in-law) at home, but also how the care they provide is invisible within the family and even society.

Methodology: We conducted semi-directed interviews in South Korea with nine daughters-in-law from the baby-boom generation. Four took care of their mother-in-law at home, and five took care of their mother-in-law at their own homes until they died.

Results: This research founded on the state of their experiences and the imbalances of tasks required of them including: task overload, conflicts between caregiver and care receiver, difficulty facing the symptoms of illness, and lack of help and recognition. Regarding the quest for stability between imbalance and equilibrium, we look into the concerns of positive feelings and self-efficacy, religion, emotional restraint, distancing, and reorganization of daily life and individual resources. We also looked into the support of secondary caregivers and the relationship between caregivers and care receiver in relational resources.

Conclusions: This article concludes by showing that Long-Term Care Insurance tends to lead primary caregivers to enter the care work market as a certified family care provider, but the form of the system is rather abnormal and questionable.

Contribution: This study contributes to discretely disclosing the singular experience of Korean primary caregivers in the provision of care for their elderly dependent relatives at home.