This article addresses the dilemmas of elderly Chinese women as spousal caregivers in Hong Kong in the 1990s. An in-depth ethnographic approach was used to draw on a convenience sample of 20 elderly wives who were caregivers from Hong Kong. At the conceptual level, the discussion highlights how caregiving is rooted in complex, culturally-based models of contemporary practices, sociohistoric patterns, and gender-specific obligations. The key themes identified were marital duty-bound roles and responsibilities, reciprocity and burden, public guidelines and upholding reputations as Chinese wives, monetary restrictions, affection as an emotional force to sustain caregiving, effects of the caregiving role, and the creation of self-identity through caregiving. The model proposed for interpreting elderly Chinese wives' caregiving obligations highlights the tension-filled links between Confucianism and government guidelines, early and ongoing socializing experiences, and self-identity.
- Cultural models