S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.03, No.01/02 (2013)
Defamilization of Elderly Care and the Experiences of the Aged in Korea
- Shin, Kyung Ah
- Issue Date
- Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.3 No.1, pp. 71-105
- Elderly Care; Care Recipient; Care Givers; Long Term Care; Defamilization; Familism; Social Welfare; Korea
- Translated from the article published in Korean Journal of Sociology vol. 45, no. 4, 2011, with permission from the Korean Sociological Association.
- Long Term Care Insurance started in July 2008. It is expected to reduce the burden on families by transferring the responsibility for elderly care to the social welfare system. This change, while necessary and welcome, might also precipitate a conflict between care recipients and care givers. This paper deals with the care recipients’ point of view, i.e. the experiences and interpretations of the aged, as their voices have not been heard either in research papers or policy-making. Qualitative data was collected from 9 care receivers through oral histories and 8 caregivers through in-depth interviews. The results show that normative ideas on elderly care have been changing. The beliefs that the primary provider for elderly care should be sons and their wives are breaking down, while the claim for the right to social welfare, as well as a demand for expanding the government’s role for public support has received more attention. This will be called “defamilization of elderly care.” However, elderly people who are the first stakeholders in this matter are not ready to accept this change. The narratives of the residents in care facilities clearly show this. Their narratives are similar in that they include involuntary admission, a comfortable life in residential homes and facilities, and confessions of longing for returning home. No matter how comfortable life in facilities is, their stories always end in their desire to return home. Despite this desire, the reality of their situations prevents them from returning to living with their families. This is because among their sons and daughters-in-law, some do not want to live with their parents, while others in dualearner families cannot afford to care for their parents. It is certain that the elderly are aware of this situation yet are reluctant to accept it. This is not an issue of individual psychological adaptation but instead is an issue of reframing the issue sociologically. The factors laid forth in the following pages must be considered in the process of socializing elderly care in Korea to reframe care at facilities in a positive light, as well as to promote a more comprehensive rationale for its necessity.