Emily Abel

Emily K. Abel is a professor of health services and women's studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is author ofHearts of Wisdom : American Women Caring for Kin, 1850-1940 and Suffering in the Land of Sunshine:A Los Angeles Illness Narrative.

Recent Articles

Intimate Care for Hire

F our months after our father's death, Jasmine Mehta, the Trinidadian Indian woman who had been his primary paid caregiver for six years, had the following dream: Our father was sitting in his wheelchair in a beautiful white suit looking very gentlemanly. He told her that they were going on a trip; he had packed his bag, and she should get hers ready. When they got to the airport, he looked confused and said, "I don't understand. Don't you have a husband and children to take care of?" When she acknowledged that she did, he said, "Well, then, you're not going with me." So she returned home alone. Jasmine told us that this dream helped her realize that a chapter of her life had closed and made her resolve to move on. Our response was very different. Her account of the dream crystalized some uncomfortable realizations about our own lives and what Jasmine's caring work meant to us. Although she tended a man who experienced the confusion of dementia, he continued to give orders; an...