Abstract

Japan's mass longevity has led to significant changes regarding the care of frail older people. In 2000, the state created a mandatory Long-Term Care Insurance program designed to provide home-based and institutional services. It has not, however, eliminated the centrality of family assistance and the question for many families remains: who will do what for frail elderly relatives? This paper examines the widespread notion that caregiving by a daughter is a better option for family care than caregiving by a daughter-in-law. As part of a larger study of family care under the new long-term care insurance system, we interviewed 14 caregiver–care recipient pairs in which the caregiver was a daughter or a daughter-in-law. In this paper, we compare the two groups regarding how they became the caregiver, their use of long-term care services and the difficulties and positive outcomes of caregiving they have experienced. We find that what the caregivers do and the difficulties of providing support to their relative are largely similar, but that they differ in the emotional and relational aspects of the caregiving experience.

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