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Why visiting one’s ageing mother is not enough: on filial duties to prevent and alleviate parental loneliness


de Vries, Bouke (2021). Why visiting one’s ageing mother is not enough: on filial duties to prevent and alleviate parental loneliness. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 24:127-133.

Abstract

As people grow old, many risk becoming chronically lonely which is associated with e.g. depression, dementia, and increased mortality. Whoever else should help to protect them from this risk, various philosophers have argued that any children that they might have will often be among them. Proceeding on this assumption, this article considers what filial duties to protect ageing parents from loneliness consist of, or might consist of. I develop my answer by showing that a view that may be intuitively plausible, namely that they simply require children to visit their ageing parents regularly when they can do so at reasonable cost and call, text, and/or email them from time to time, is defective in three respects. First, it ignores children’s potential responsibilities to encourage and/or facilitate social interaction between their parents and third parties. Second, it ignores their potential responsibilities to help provide their parents with non-human companionship. Third, it elides over their duties to coordinate their efforts to offer loneliness protection with others. What I end up proposing instead, then, is an approach for protecting ageing parents from loneliness that is multi-faceted.

Abstract

As people grow old, many risk becoming chronically lonely which is associated with e.g. depression, dementia, and increased mortality. Whoever else should help to protect them from this risk, various philosophers have argued that any children that they might have will often be among them. Proceeding on this assumption, this article considers what filial duties to protect ageing parents from loneliness consist of, or might consist of. I develop my answer by showing that a view that may be intuitively plausible, namely that they simply require children to visit their ageing parents regularly when they can do so at reasonable cost and call, text, and/or email them from time to time, is defective in three respects. First, it ignores children’s potential responsibilities to encourage and/or facilitate social interaction between their parents and third parties. Second, it ignores their potential responsibilities to help provide their parents with non-human companionship. Third, it elides over their duties to coordinate their efforts to offer loneliness protection with others. What I end up proposing instead, then, is an approach for protecting ageing parents from loneliness that is multi-faceted.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Health Sciences > Health Policy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Health Policy, Education, Health (social science)
Language:English
Date:1 March 2021
Deposited On:30 Dec 2021 13:41
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:38
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1386-7423
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-020-10000-5
Project Information:
  • : FunderUmea University
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)