The Strange Political Silence On Elder Care

Millions of middle-aged women struggle to care for ailing older relatives, and the crisis is only getting worse. So why is no one talking about it?

For Alexis Baden-Mayer, who lives with and cares for her two elderly parents, the audiobook of Marcel Proust’s six-volume novel, In Search of Lost Time, has two distinct benefits. First, it provides 150 hours of literary distraction. Second, it features a character who jokes about excrement. 

“Play it in the car as you drive your loved-ones to doctors appointments,” she wrote in a blog post about her caregiving experience. “Play it each morning as you strip soiled linens from the mattresses, make beds and fold laundry. Play it, as I have, to try to calm and distract yourself as you bark commands to your dementia-addled mother to wipe her butt and drop the toilet paper in the toilet.”

Baden-Mayer, a freckled forty-five-year-old, put her house on Airbnb three years ago and moved with her husband and two kids into her parents’ home in Alexandria, Virginia. Her mom, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was no longer able to take care of her dad, who had suffered from heart failure.

Learn more at Washington Monthly.

Kate McCartypolitics, a story