For the past year or so I have been researching and writing the history of family caregiving. Let me say that in no way can this be a comprehensive piece of work! I have chosen to focus mainly on care of the elderly, since this reflects my professional experience as a social worker.
“It’s just what we do.” This quote opens Tim Cook’s 2007 The History of the Carers’ Movement, which outlines the history of the British organisation now known as Carers UK. But caring for others goes back a long, long time, as Lorna Tilley demonstrates in her fascinating book Theory and Practice in the Bioarcheology of Care. She quotes a number of bioarchaeological authorities who say that most remains of older Neanderthal showed healing, ‘implying that the Neanderthals had achieved a level of societal development where disabled individuals were well cared for by others of the social group’.