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AIBU to expect children to care for parents at some point

(248 Posts)
ruthyroo Fri 05-Apr-13 10:54:21

Had an interesting discussion with my parents recently.

They were talking about an aged relative - my aunt's MIL - who is 90 and in failing health, and slipping into dementia. She has recently been in hospital, and is not keen to go home. She has asked to go to stay with my aunt and uncle 'until she's back on her feet'. My parents were talking about it as if she was scheming and conniving to somehow get her foot in the door at my Aunt's and sneakily live there forever instead. Since she is 90 and feels very vulnerable I said that surely it was totally natural for her to want to be with people she knows and trusts, and wasn't that what families did for each other.

Their reaction was very much that parents sacrifice themselves for children and help them out, not the other way round. And that if I expected my dc to look after me when I was old, well I'd better not rely on that. I pointed out that DH and I moved back to the UK from Aus, partly because they and my PIL are not getting any younger and that we fully expect to have to help them out more in the future. But they were not to be budged: parents help children out (financially, childcare, lodgings, support etc) - not the other way round.

In my aunt's case there are other factors that would not have made it a great idea for her to take her MIL in - she's not in great health herself, my uncle is in a wheelchair and she doesn't have children nearby to help her out. But my parents applied the same rule to themselves and said that they had no expectation of my sister and I helping them out or - God forbid - offering a place to live if they needed it when they are older.

AIBU and totally niave to expect that children help parents as well as the other way round?

SirBoobAlot Fri 05-Apr-13 10:59:46

No, YANBU in theory. But life isn't always that straight forward, is it.

Hope she is okay.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 05-Apr-13 10:59:54

YABU to expect it in our culture. I don't think we have the same approach to family life as some cultures do. I live in a very Asian populated area and I admire their approach to family life. Family is a big thing to them, they're surrounded by cousins and elderly relatives. They're in it together.

StickEmUpPunk Fri 05-Apr-13 11:02:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheNebulousBoojum Fri 05-Apr-13 11:07:36

I don't think love and care and help in our family works on a linear basis.

livinginwonderland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:12:47

I think it's unfair to expect it and to expect children to plan their futures around the health of their parents. That's not to say I wouldn't look after my parents if I could, but I wouldn't relocate my life and the lives of my children/family to do so. I wasn't born to be some kind of safety net for when they get old - luckily my parents have no financial worries but if something were to happen tomorrow (say an accident as both are still young and healthy) - I wouldn't really be able to do much for them. I'm not well-off and can hardly support myself. I couldn't afford to give up my job for them and nor would they expect me to.

Madratlady Fri 05-Apr-13 11:15:49

I'm a nurse and have worked in care of the elderly, so I'm looking at it more from a professional point of view.

In theory it would be lovely if we could all look after our elderly parents. If they are of sound mind and able to do some things for themselves it may be doable, especially with the help of carers, but I think people underestimate how demanding caring for an elderly relative is, especially someone physically disabled or with dementia. Often they can't be left alone for more than a few hours at most, which is difficult for families who work. It's also physically and mentally hard wok, and emotionally can be very draining. Some people find it uncomfortable providing intimate care for their parent, or the parents may be embarrassed by their child doing it.

They could be at risk of leaving the cooker on and causing a fire, being burgled by an opportunist going door to door targeting vulnerable elderly people, wander off and get lost. All things that can happen in a very short period of time alone.

Some people are just safer in a care home where they have assistance on hand 24/7 if they need anything, meals provided, safe access to outdoor areas where they can't wander off, and the company of others.

Although my parents are a long ay off old age I have said that I can't promise that they would never have to go into a home as it may be a promise I won't be able to keep, although I will do everything I can to help them in their old age.

Sirzy Fri 05-Apr-13 11:16:33

So your basically saying nobody should make any plans from around the age of 50 and instead make sure your free to care for your parents.

I think you can't judge, different families have different set ups and different problems and they have to do what is best for the majority.

meditrina Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:02

It's a cultural/familial expectation, and it's neither right nor wrong.

"Be nice to your children, they're the ones who will choose your care home" is also a possibility. You can look after someone without their being in your home. Taking in the elderly in a lovely thing to do; taking on someone with serious dementia who may need full nursing care isn't so easy.

zukiecat Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tee2072 Fri 05-Apr-13 11:20:12

Weird. This is the 3rd thread about this in as many days!

YABU I will not be moving closer to my parent as they get older or my PILs, nor do they expect me to. I have my own life.

I do not expect my son to take care if me, either.

TheRivieraKid Fri 05-Apr-13 11:20:30

This is one of those situations where I don't it's possible to be totally YABU or YANBU, it depends entirely on personal circumstances. As a society we're not set-up to look after the elderly in our homes, and some conditions brought on by age can be hugely difficult to care for if you're not a professional.

For example, I will not be looking after my parents in their dotage based on the relationship I have with them and the hellish childhood I had. Equally I don't expect DD to have to look after me when I get old hoping I will have toddled off long before I get to that stage.

Maybe your parents are simply seeing the case of the aunt as a way to tell you they don't want to burden you themselves in years to come, OP?

Emsmaman Fri 05-Apr-13 11:22:20

Caring 100% for a relative is a massive strain, I think if paid help is feasible that is best with family to supplement. My DM became depressed in the years she was caring for her DM and has said she will make provisions so we don't have to do the same for her, she doesn't want us to go through what she did.

Startail Fri 05-Apr-13 11:26:43

I am my father's daughter, I have inherited his short temper.

We love each other dearly, no way could we live together!

DontmindifIdo Fri 05-Apr-13 11:33:01

Well on the bright side, at least you know they don't expect you to care for them, so it's only your PIL you'll have to worry about.

Seriously though, a lot of our parent's generation don't get that a lot of the 'older age' care plans in this country are being based on the assumption children will pick up a lot of the slack. They might not like it, but unless they are rich enough to pay for staff, they might have no choice but to lean on you to a certain extent as they age.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 11:48:14

With age gaps between generations increasing, and house prices having increased, family set ups are different. One of my IL's has dementia. We have young children and two jobs. Full time care from my DH is not an option. My children have to come first with me.
Fewer people can afford large enough houses either.

ENormaSnob Fri 05-Apr-13 11:54:01


expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:57:48

YABU. It's not possible for many children - they have young children themselves and/or have to work full-time just to live. House prices mean they often don't have the space, either.

Also, with people living longer, well, my gran fell ill and frail and her children were already in their 60s with serious health conditions themselves.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:36

For myself, I have no desire to live so long I get too frail to look after myself and I will take matters into my own hands should that occur. I mean that entirely, especially as I wish to join my child in death at such a point and have no great hold on life.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:52

YABVU. Obviously in some circumstances you may be a ble to help and care for them. Sometimes this is not possible and you are very unreasonable to expect it.

I cared for my father and had him live with me for the last few months of his life. It was very hard, practically and emotionally. Cleaning him up after his accidents was difficult as he didn't want me to have to do that for him. However he was fully sound of mind and able to do most things for himself. With the help of carers it was just about possible.

My mum has Alzheimer's and is not capable of independent living. There is NO WAY I could have her living with me. I still have children at home, we have to travel a lot and I am barely ever home for more than a few days. Mum needs 24 hour supervision. If I had no life at all I could probably martyr myself and do it, but it would not be fair on DH or the DCs. Being with her for even an hour is incredibly draining and I have health issues myself. Most if all she is safe in a care home, my house would not be safe for her without me resorting to locking her in a room.

Also you are wrong to tell your parents that you have moved back from AUs to help care for them in the future. They don't want or expect that, clearly, so you shouldn't expect their gratitude for something they haven't asked for.

I hope my children never have to make the decisions I have had to. I helped my dad die with grace and dignity within our home, his last few weeks were full of laughter and hold very special memories. Sadly I cannot offer my mum the same- the circumstances are different.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:00:49

I think what Madratlady says is most sensible.

Personally i know my Mum & Nan could never live together, also me & my sister have offered to help my Nan but she keeps refusing help.

If my Dad was ill i'd get Carers for him because i think it's inappropriate for a opposite-sex relative to carry out Personal Care - and i know he'd agree.

It depends what kind of care & who needs it basically - also every family set up is different.

I know some Asian families where the women are driven mad by the MILs who live with them!!

ruthyroo Fri 05-Apr-13 12:02:14

Oh you are all right - I'm not BU or totally reasonable!! It's very much down to personal circumstances. My parents have helped me out over and over and over again - maybe I feel that there is an obligation to repay that, when they need it and I can help them rather than the other way round (though they are adamant that there is no such obligation)? Plus they live out in the sticks - they love where they live, but at some point they are going to need physical help to chop logs, cut the grass, clear the snow from the drive so they can get out in winter etc. My sister has moved closer and bought a car, partly so that she can be within easy reach of them and help out with this kind of thing.

My aunt is in a horrible situation, and it's not helped by the fact that both her children have recently emigrated, taking her only grandchildren with them AND leaving her without the physical assistance she needs to care for my uncle (one of my cousins used to live with them and help her dad get around and do a lot of jobs around the house). They did what theychose to do becuase they believed it would mean a better life for their own children / themselves - but it has left their parents in a really difficult situation.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:02:49

expat sad to hear you aren't too happy with life at present.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Fri 05-Apr-13 12:03:22

YABU - you are looking at it from an idealistic point of view and sadly life isn't like that.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:06:15

'expat sad to hear you aren't too happy with life at present.'

Eh? I have no desire to get so old and frail I can't look after myself, Latara, I never have. I'd rather take matters into my own hands than live so long I can't look after myself. No, thanks.

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