Would you talk to your ageing parents about care?

February 5, 2015 by Jenny Garrett

caring for elderly parent

It seems that, while many of us are worrying about the future care needs of our parents, few of us are actually prepared to discuss the subject with them.

An in-depth study of 2,000 people with parents aged over 60, conducted by leading national care provider Care UK, found that two thirds of the people questioned worried about the future care of their parents, yet most were reluctant to openly discuss the topic with them. Worryingly, only seven per cent of respondents said they had made plans for their parents’ future care.

It’s not an easy topic to discuss as Alison*, relative of a care home resident, reveals. Alison initially acted as carer for her mother, but when her mother’s changing needs demanded more expert care, her mother did not like to talk about it.

Alison’s taking on the role of carer also had a negative impact on their relationship: “I’d take meals around, wash her clothes and make sure the dogs were alright. I was becoming more of a carer than a daughter.”

The Care UK study also found that, while 37 per cent of those polled felt that a care home could provide better care for their parents, they felt guilty about arranging this.

Other statistics highlighted by the study include:

  • Less than a third (28 per cent) of people would have their parents live with them
  • Of those who said they wouldn’t want their parents to move in, half said their home wasn’t big enough
  • 20 per cent said they lacked the necessary skills to look after their parents; one in ten said their own health wasn’t up to it
  • Of those who had not discussed future plans with their parents, 44 per cent said it was not something they worry about right now

Jeni Rushton, Care Manager at Care UK says: “Many people have said to me that they feel guilty because their parents have looked after them when they were younger and now they feel they have a duty to look after them. However, they may be unable to do this due to a variety of reasons, such as financial circumstances, ill health, lack of space etc. This enhances their feelings of guilt.

“It can be a difficult subject to approach but if people shy away from talking about it and a crisis occurs, they are then faced with a decision that they are unprepared for.  If discussions are had earlier on then an informed decision can be made together and perhaps some of the options tried out.”

Jenny Garrett is the Award Winning Coach and founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy. She’s also the author of Rocking Your Role, a how-to guide to success for female breadwinners, Creator of the online coaching programme, the Happenista Project and co-founder of Rocking Ur Teens CIC

*Name has been changed