Review by Choice Review
This excellent historical review of female caregiving within families as a transformative experience identifies conditions that make this form of human connectedness rewarding and meaningful and those that increase its burdens. Major forces addressed include bacteriological revolution; new concepts of disease; development of formal health systems, including recent policy changes that reimpose caregiving obligations on households; and the spread of domestic technologies. Exemplars taken from women's diaries illustrate the relationship between healing knowledge and power, the value placed on emotional and spiritual aspects of caregiving, conflicts between autonomy and dependence, and the feminine empathic knowledge that fits society's expectation that women serve as family caregivers. Abel (UCLA) focuses on care of the dying at home and chronic conditions including tuberculosis and epilepsy and deafness in children. Legacies of the past imply that caregiving is primarily women's work ; poor women face special difficulties rendering care; personal relationships and circumstances mold caregiving experiences; caregiving is not confined to immediate family members; external forces shape the amount and nature of caregiving; and though caregiving imposes serious costs, it is a profound human experience that provides important gratifications. Abel suggests broad reforms in personal caregiving for the 21st century. Extensive bibliography; pleasant writing style. All levels. J. E. Thompson University of Pennsylvania
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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