How Much Time do we Give to our Ageing Parents? What Ageing Parents Want from Their Children? And What Can we do to Help and Support our Aging Parents?
This is something that we all have to think about regularly, and we all feel guilty about our level of engagement at some stage: with thoughts such as:
I work full time. How can I / should I care for my aging parents?
My boss does not support me when I need time to attend to my parents when they need help. What should I do?
Should I find a Home Care Service Provider?
And where can I find one, and will they like them, or accept them?
What care do my ageing parents need?
How can I care for them when I live far away from them?
I am a working woman (and with a family), how can I care for my Ageing Parents
How much do I need to be involved in looking after my parents?
Can I just spend more time with them, without all the hassle?
Ageing Parents are a Major Concern in Many Families.
The facts remain, ‘it is easier said than done’ to give care to our parents'.
In this fast-paced time, everyone trying to earn enough money to care for ourselves and for our own children. Some people work two shifts to do this, making it so hard to choose between their job and all other personal responsibilities. A common question for our working generation is: "I am working full-time, how I can care for the elders in my family?" Sometimes, the simple answer is to commit fully to caring for your ageing parents yourself, but this can be hard if not impossible without leaving a job and letting go of work, real life and family. Some people do leave their work permanently since this is the only answer to: "My boss does not support me, what should I do?"
What is the Current Scenario?
In the UK, there are 2 million people from a 65 million population, who have given-up their work to fulfil family responsibilities. A Family Resources Survey in 2017 declared that about 43% of these people look after an elder or sick parent, for which they need temporary or permanent leave from work, also coining the term ‘gran-ternity leave’. In view of this challenge, the right to request flexible working was implemented in the UK in 2014. However, there's a catch in this, as employees can request flexibility for giving time to their ageing parents, but employers are not required to honour these requests. It is often a responsibility of bosses to decline such requests, simply because it will be detrimental to the business. If you are a worker, then you might think that working part time / working flexible times or working in a less busy department might be the answer to taking care of your parents. But, even this is hard to achieve.
As a son or daughter, it is not necessarily expected that you will be there for your parents in their later years, even though they took time-out of their schedule to attend your school, presentations and events etc. There have been many cases, when a human resource department cannot help because it is clear that your boss does not want to support the worker, leaving the only outcome to leave the job and move full-time into caring for ageing parents.
Financially and professionally, you might find yourself in a difficult position. A potential solution or ‘stop-gap’ might be to answer the question: "Should I find an independent home-care service provider to help me care properly for my parents?" with a resounding “yes”, but this also poses risks. However, if you take this option, then another question is "How do I care for my ageing parents and how can I check this arrangement from a distance?".
About Home-Care Providers
Be it your mother, father, or an uncle/aunt, their well-being is, and should be, the upmost priority. You need to take extra care with their health, especially if there are signs of memory loss, decline in health or some other disease involved. If you are unable to give full (even 100%) attention and time, then you should seek out someone who offers a service with specialised and professional home care: i.e. someone with trained people, who have hands-on experience in finding the right services to take good care of ageing and/or sick people. In UK and many other countries, many people who have sought out such services, have appreciated what these experts can deliver. You can search for one, in your parent’s area; so that there is no need to worry, whether you live an hour away or in another country: you can be sure there is good care available for our elders.
Should I Personally Become Engaged in Looking After my Elders?
A most definitely: “Yes”. But you should perhaps always consider finding someone that can take the ‘load’ away from you. Often a professional working in this area can take away some of the most burdensome tasks and find people to undertake others because they have skills that you do not yet have or simply because they do this all the time and know how to do so. Equally, as a professional, they can initiate some of the difficult conversations that a relative cannot always navigate.
Your part will be important in this to still be involved in helping them to live a comfortable life but getting more involved in the ‘nicer parts of the task’, like spending time with them rather than time finding them the right help.
Our parents have been there for us whilst we have grown up through good and bad times and finding us the right schools, teachers and clubs to go to: and now it is our turn to help them to find support, and to address their physical and social needs now that they are older or experiencing deteriorating health.
Cecilia Trueman is a nurse and adviser at Independent Living Advisers (ILA.life).
Helping to Support Older People with Independent Living
ILA.life supports older people to live in their own home rather than prematurely move into a care home. ILA.life provides qualified healthcare advisers that work with older people to define, organise and monitor the needed support to live more comfortably in their own home. ILA.life elderly care advisers provide regular reviews and quickly identify health, safety or welfare issues. This means that problems can be anticipated and prevented, that relatives can enjoy being with the family-time whilst someone solves the challenges, and that expensive care-home costs can start only if and when they are needed.