Contributor: Rosalyn Neranartkomol
Origin/affiliation: 5th year medical student at the Medical University of Silesia. Master's in Gerontology from USC and ambition to pursue geriatrics in the future. Poland
"What is your greatest fear?" I asked my Tinder date.
"Growing old and becoming helpless, you?" My date replied.
It is our first date and he does not know that I have always pondered what I will do when I become a part of the sandwich generation. He is not the first and will not be the last to answer this way.
As a woman, I may one day join the ranks of other women who have to juggle being a wife, a mother, an employee, and a daughter all at the same time. Caregiving is not sexy. It is backbreaking and part of the invisible labor to which many women are prescribed. When will caregiving become something that we tackle as a society as opposed to throwing most of the burden to the individual?
Everyone is afraid of becoming old because it signifies being helpless, a burden, no longer a productive member of society, no longer of value and/or of meaning. There must be something wrong with how we view old age as a society. At one point or another (for example, when we are acutely ill or when we were babies), we were all of these things: helpless, a burden, not a productive member of society. Our value and meaning to society are inherent in our being, not in our doing. We have always needed care from the moment we arrive into this world -- and intermittently, as we live, we also need care. Why does old age make it any different? I hope we, as a society, will provide a more caring structure to those who need care and those who provide care.
As for my answer? "The pressure of having to be everything for everyone while failing to do so without any support system to rely on." You can imagine how that Tinder date ended.