Crossroads has been a staple in our Germantown community for nearly two decades, known to provide expansive services to low-income women, especially women of color. The scope of your services … Continue reading
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By Phoebe Jones and Margaret Prescod
May 10, 2019
The AARP recently released Home Alone Revisited, a report of the nation’s 40 million family caregivers, which said, “In the current health-care environment, it is presumed that every home is a potential hospital and every service that the person needs can be provided by an unpaid family member, with only occasional visits by a primary-care provider, nurse, or therapist.”
This is an acknowledgement of what any of us who have cared for loved ones know — that the home is the new hospital staffed by millions of unpaid family caregivers doing medical jobs.
It (almost) goes without saying that the vast majority of those caregivers are women. (We say “almost” because in the attempt by researchers and others to be inclusive, the sex of the majority of people actually doing the work is hidden. We say “women and others” or “mothers and other caregivers” to be both accurate and inclusive.)
As women’s rights campaigners, we have seen that many caregivers are mothers and others looking after both young children and elderly parents.
Many are grandmothers caring for disabled children (while they themselves may also be disabled), or caring for the children of their children who have to work or fulfill welfare work requirements and can’t afford childcare, or are caught up by the opioid epidemic or mass incarceration.
We know from Payday, a network of men who work with us, that caregivers are often partners of veterans who have been disabled, injured, or traumatized by war.
And we know that most of us are, in one way or another, caring for people with diseases caused by pollution, environmental degradation, contamination, workplace hazards, and a food system that is a far cry from being organic or natural. For example, glyphosate (the chemical in Roundup) was found in the urine samples of 70-93% of the US population, raising the risk of neurological disorders, leukemia, and other diseases to which the chemicals have been linked.
Yet in the way the US calculates work and the GDP, none of those millions of caregivers are actually working. If one does not get a paycheck, then one is not working…