Family and "family-like" people: conflicts over community-based elderly care
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines community-based elder care on a small Okinawan island, specifically analyzing the conflicts between family members and neighboring “family-like” care workers. By comparing attitudes of and about elderly people, I will discuss certain features of the family in Japan.
Paper long abstract:
Following the enactment of the Long-Term Care Insurance Act in 2000, the role of caring for the elderly in Japan has shifted from family members to care workers. However, as underpopulated regions may have fewer care resources, the Japanese government has promoted the construction of community-based elderly care systems in such areas. As a result, some people in Hateruma, a small island in Okinawa have begun working in elder care. In such a situation, conflicts can arise when elderly people are cared for by neighbors in the same way they might formerly have been cared for by family. Through the examination of case studies, this paper focuses on emerging conflicts between family and neighboring "family-like" elder care workers in Japan, with a focus on the cultural notion of ie. In Japan, the concept of ie is an important characteristic of the family system, connoting a successive, multi-generational family lineage; under this ideal, the lineage is continuous and condensed, so that individuals are perceived as merely bridging a short period between continuing generations. How do such notions influence emerging elder care conflicts, especially in Hateruma, where people have great respect for ie? Considering this context, this paper analyzes the causes of elder care conflicts and discusses certain features of the current family in Japan.
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