One more down side of caring for elderly parents

Nov 16 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

There has been a lot of press about childcare at SfN. InBabyAttachMode reposted her excellent post from a while back. This included this link to a document titled Recs for making SfN 2018 more family/breastfeeding-friendly from Rebecca M. Calisi Rodriguez @BeccaCalisi.  The document makes for interesting reading. I can't believe for example, there are no sinks for handwashing in the lactation rooms. [aside: follow @BeccaCalisi, she's good].

We have come a long way in the six years since IBAM went to SfN and even more in the 30 years since my generation was parenting young ones, and left children at home, as there was no such thing as child care, etc at meetings. I perceive this as changes for the good in our society (when sometimes it feels like there aren't any, also no smoking. In the olden days, the poster areas had a heavy bluish cloud of smoke hanging everywhere).

What I do want to point out is that there is no movement, no support and really no on-site alternatives for people who are care-givers for their elderly and demented parents. People still coo over infants (well, many do). And those who are not enamored of other people's children, at least find it tolerable. I suspect if one went through the posters with one's drooling and unkempt parent, it would not be received so favorably. We tolerate drool and pee and bodily smells in kids in ways we do not in adults. Using a "family restroom" in public to change elder diapers is seldom met with tolerance and approval.

I'm not necessarily arguing that what we provide for childcare should also be mirrored in adult-care. But we do need to be aware that all of the social burdens of taking care of others are not just breastfeeding infants.

One response so far

  • Jaws says:

    I'd like to gently point out that there are several structural barriers — largely outside the control of the actual conferences/conventions — to parenting/children that aren't even being discussed, and that these barriers combine to further distort what little conversation is being had.

    Transportation is an issue. Consider, for example, the convention center that extols its public transportation access. That's great, in a general sense; ever tried carrying an infant, in business clothes and with a briefcase/laptop, on and off a bus or train in a crowded urban area with which one is not familiar (and therefore needs to stop and actually read directional signs, and perhaps a map)?* How about just to and from the bloody airport? How about availability of taxis with child car seats?

    Then let's consider overnight accommodations. Ever tried actually getting a crib at a convention-friendly hotel, even when there's no convention in progress? More to the point, ever compared the price of the crib to another complete bed... or just looked at a hotel room from a "child safety" standpoint? How about room-service food options, or in-room refrigerators and microwaves (these last at least are slowly improving, albeit not usually at convention-center hotels)?

    I could go on; I lost a number of speaking and learning and networking opportunities to precisely these problems during my single-parent days. My point is that there are lots of barriers thrown up by the convention/conference industry's "travelling unaccompanied male salesman" structural presumptions that are blindly acceded to by scientific and professional conferences.

    * Yes, I'm specifically picking on YOU, London and New York City and Boston and DC and...

Leave a Reply