Elderly parents

The health minister and others have come to the conclusion that it would be better for the country, i.e. more cost-effective, if families looked after their elderly parents. This is the most dreadful cop-out and not practicable in many ways. As Janice Turner says, students priced out of the rental market with nowhere to live come home to roost, families live in smaller and smaller homes due to the burgeoning population and the need to be near employment. Apart from the problem of space, caring for elderly parents is a full-time job seldom shared. Moreover the care almost always falls onto the woman. There are financial matters, hospital appointments, shopping, personal care, cleaning, alarms in the night, GPs with too little time, protracted waits for operations: all and sundry to be dealt with. Elderly people often have a myriad of problems and it can go on over two decades. When my own parents were in their eighties I was working from home on a speculative basis and could take time off, although my work undoubtedly suffered. It is usually one family member who bears the load, others use ‘work’ to absolve themselves of responsibility, or are too far away, or deliberately do not understand the problem and that help from outside agencies is almost nil.

There is another question never discussed and clearly taboo. Whilst some elderly people are biddable and compliant, others are cantankerous, difficult and querulous: such nascent personality traits worsened by age and illness. It is a truth seldom told that older people can be devious and manipulative and wreak havoc in a family causing trouble between husband and wife and many intergenerational tensions. Even when my parents were finally in care, after I had coped for several years, there was still much to do: support and vigilance was still needed. I also was involved helping my mother in law. Arguably I was being financially supported by my husband at the time but also busy with my teenage children and running my own household. I did everything I could, first with love and then with duty, but It took its toll. I admit compassion fatigue set in. Women in the fifties and sixties are already bearing a huge unpaid burden, more cannot be put upon them and the question of caring for older people is not a simple matter of transferring back responsibility to families from the state. It is certainly not a case of job-done-hooray!!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 12th, 2018 at 1:15 pm and is filed under Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.