Caring for Elderly Canadian Punjabis: Understandings and Contributions of Adult Sons and Daughters

Jassi, Ashna
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University of Guelph

Gendered expectations that sons (and their wives) will ensure care for their elderly parents have been evidenced to contribute to son preferential attitudes and behaviours among Canadian Punjabis (Almond, Edlund, & Milligan, 2013; Ray, Henry and Urquia, 2012; Srinivasan, 2018; Urquia et al., 2016). However, how first-generation Canadian Punjabi sons and daughters themselves understand and provide elderly care is unknown. Two studies were conducted to address this gap in the literature. Study 1 utilized interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to investigate how first-generation Canadian Punjabi men (n = 7) and women (n = 7) made sense of and experienced elderly parent/parent-in-law care, in relation to gender and generation hierarchies. Findings indicate that men did not contest the gendered expectations that stem from patriarchal, patrilocal exogamous systems in place in Punjab. Men did not report caring for parents-in-law, and they were at greater ease when care for their own elderly parents was shared across siblings. However, women transcended gender and generation hierarchies by contesting their low hierarchies in their in-law’s residence, and navigating caregiving for their own elderly parents, in addition to parents-in-law, when they lived near to their own parents. Study 2 utilized an online survey (n =103) to investigate the impact of gender on elderly caregiving activities among first-generation Canadian Punjabi adult men and women. Study 2 also explored how various psychosocial factors impacted care activities. Gender of married adult children did not play a conclusively significant role on caregiving activities. Survey data illustrated women’s involvement in support for both parents and parents-in-law. Taken together, this dissertation addresses a gap in the literature on how first-generation Canadian Punjabi sons and daughters understand and provide elderly care. Both studies of this dissertation contribute to emergent evidence of the involvement of Punjabi adult daughters’ involvement in caring for their own elderly parents and parents-in-law in Western nations. These findings have implications for the Canadian Punjabi community, including that they may contribute to the deconstruction of son preferential attitudes related to elderly parent care security.

Canadian Punjabi, Elderly Care, Adult sons and daughters, Gender and elderly care, Son preference, Canadian Punjabi gender