Key question: Who will perform diaper-duty for the elderly?


Men want their wives to take care of their bodily waste if they become bedridden or are left in other conditions requiring this kind of care, while women would rather be looked after by professional helpers or their daughters, according to a survey by Unicharm Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of adult diapers.

Two-thirds of male respondents chose their wives as their preferred caretaker to change their diapers, while only 21 percent of the women selected their husbands.

Daughters were chosen by only 3.7 percent of the men but by 25.1 percent of the women. Professional caretakers were preferred by 26 percent of the men and 46.9 percent of the women.

With the population growing older, people who will need this kind of care are going to increase while the number of caretakers will decrease.

Unicharm spokeswoman Seiko Hattori said that while this subject is sensitive, determining who will perform the care is important to maintain the comfort of the recipient.

“Men and women will be equally embarrassed, but the way they think about it is sharply different,” Hattori said. “Because it is embarrassing, women prefer daughters, who are the same gender, or strangers, and men prefer their wives.”

Interestingly, sons are the least favorite caretakers, with only 0.4 percent of men and 0.1 percent of women preferring them for this role.

“I guess people doubt sons’ ability as caretakers even though some sons may be willing to help,” Hattori said.

Among the other questions in the survey, which covered 542 people ranging in age from their 40s to 80s, 92.2 percent of men and 86 percent of women said they are willing to take care of their spouses.

But when it comes to being taken care of by their spouses, there is a sharp difference between genders. Of the respondents, 14.9 percent of women said they absolutely do not want their husbands to help, while only 1.9 percent of men had such reservations about their wives.