Benefits and Burdens of Caregiving

538 Words3 Pages
Caregiving dominated women’s lives throughout the nineteenth century. Beginning as early as childhood and extending into middle and old age, caregiving simultaneously obtained a dreadful toll and awarded significant benefits. One of the burdens of caregiving was needing to stay at home to care for friends, neighbors and immediate family members who were ill. At times women had to leave their jobs for an extended period of time to care for others (44). When members of the community became ill it sometimes pulled women away from their homes for a long period of time. In that case, women would have to care for the ill person and pick up the chores around the person’s home that they were staying at as well. Unfortunately, the caregiver’s housework only hoarded in her absence from home. When husbands or older children fell ill, the caregiver had to add the patient’s chores to their own list of duties (47). When a husband who was the wage earner for the family became ill, the wife would often search for a job herself. The wife would then have the responsibilities of working, housework and caregiving all at once (48). Also, women credited their own sickness to the stresses of caregiving. Some women would suffer from exhaustion, weight loss and back problems (49). Being a caregiver also came with a lot of “dirty work.” Women would have to deal with blood, vomit, pus and excreta. During surgeries their assistants would frequently splash them with various bodily fluids (50). Although caregiving offered many burdens to the caregiver’s lives, it also offered satisfaction. Women felt a sense of pride from all the hard work they had to undergo such as: cooking, cleaning, dressing sick people, helping them in and out of bed, and delivering. They possessed good powers of mind and were very well respected. Because caregiving began so early in a women’s life, it provided them the
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