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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?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:07:53

YANBU....people are fucking selfish. I could never see my Mother in a home...or my MIl...both have "strong" personalities but I'd NEVER leave them in an institution

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:08:28

ruthy if my children had families of their own and truly felt those families and they would have a better life elsewhere, they would have my absolute blessing to go! I have no wish to burden them with myself living on and on. I think living longer is only good if you have your health, tbh.

ghostprotocol Fri 05-Apr-13 12:09:33

Personally I've been thinking about this a lot, as my parents are considering moving further away from me and I worry about how they'll cope when I'm no longer half a mile away. They're perfectly fit and healthy now, but they ask for help with computer/advocate issues sometimes, and they have some health problems already.

I come from quite a tight-knit family and we probably help each other out more than the average family on MN - I always had lots of free babysitting and we cared for my own grandparents at home until they died, even when they were very frail (tube fed and Alzheimers) and there wasn't much room in our house. So it's very much expected in my wider family. I don't think that's a bad thing, I often feel sorry for families on MN who post that they live miles away from parents/siblings and struggle to get help for childcare cover for emergencies, or family to help out with things like DIY jobs.

I only have one child and he has SN, so I don't expect him to be able to care for me when I'm older though. If my health required it, I expect I'd go into a care home and I think I'd probably prefer that myself. I know it's not something my own parents would like though, and it would be down to one of me or my siblings to find room for them to stay if they needed it.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:10:04

'I could never see my Mother in a home...or my MIl...both have "strong" personalities but I'd NEVER leave them in an institution'

Then I hope you have means to hire in help if they get dementia. Have you ever cared for a person with advanced dementia? They don't sleep like normal people. Some can get quite violent, too, and are a danger to themselves and others. The care such a person requires is truly 24/7. And it's a slow way to die. Takes years.

meddie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:11:15

Yabu. Not every family even like their relatives. I love my mum, but I don't like her. I happily nursed my dad up until his death and would do so for my mum with assistance if it was a short acute illness. but there is no way I could provide long term care for her if she had chronic problems such as dementia.That is a huge burden to take on.
The assumption that because your parents raised you, you owe them something is wrong and its an unfair burden of guilt that usually falls on the females in a family.
They made that choice to have children and the subsequent sacrifices needed to raise them, same as I did when I had my kids.
I don't expect them to sacrifice their life for me either.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:12:16

I agree expat. I never want to end up like my mum. She is in a constant state of terror as she doesn't know where she is or what is going on. Imagine waking up every day and finding yourself in a strange place, then multiply that to every minute of every day- no thanks.

I hope by the time we get to that age there is something in place to be able to choose when we go.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:13:58

Did anyone see 24 Hours in the NHS last week? A wife was carrying for her husband with dementia. She could not leave him alone. Ever. He got up at all hours and got up to all kinds. She had to put him in a home because he was a danger to himself and there's no way a single person can care for such a person one and one as again, they do not sleep like normal people.

purrpurr Fri 05-Apr-13 12:14:05

YABU. My parents have spent 6 years caring for their parents, I've hardly seen them. I would never prioritise my own parents over my children. For one thing, I'm not qualified - my parents may need round the clock nursing, someone to assess if they need medication, mobility aids, someone to design a schedule of activities to slow the progression of dementia or alzheimers if applicable. It's also really not very clever to attempt to provide that sort of care one on one. Having been a carer for a wide range of service users, the one thing I learned on one spectacularly horrible shift was the trauma experienced by you and your charge when you drop them. I still go cold now and it was ten years ago.

I also wouldn't want to subject my marriage to becoming a full time primary carer for my parents. What would I say to my husband - you look after the kids and I'll see you in twenty years? No. Hell no.

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:36

My mum would argue grass is blue if it suited her and can moan for england but she is my mum and will always have a home with me.

Maybe not a choice everyone can or would make but it is the only choice for me.

itsblackoveryonderhill Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:36

It's not yes or no answer I'm afraid. It's dependant on many factors.

My parents have said for along time that I shouldn't worry about them when they need care and I should just put them into a nursing/care home. This is off my back of my Mam being told by her mother that the only reason why my GM had children was so that they could look after her when she got old. My Mam didn't want that for me or my sister.

This has certainly been put to the test in the past 18mths after my Mam had a brain haemorrhage, leaving her severely disabled (she was 59), my Dad left work to become her full time carer. My Dad and I had discussed whether my Mam should go into a nursing home, but he was certain he wanted to look after her. I can't help much because I live 70 miles away and neither can my sister.

I've told my Dad that I do worry for his health due to the exhaustion it creates, both physically and mentally. But he turned round and said to me not to worry about him and my Mam and that I've got my own life and family to live.

Don't get me wrong, when I feel that the time has come that it's just too much for my Dad I'll sit down with him and have stearn words with him to just let somebody else do the work (in a nursing home). He can be a stubborn old sod at the best of times.

I do sit and worry at times over the effect it is having on my Dad, but I've been told not to, so I let it be fleeting.

I'd say, your parents are telling you the same as I've been told from mine, but in a more roundabout way. You were not born to look after them or worry about them in their old age.

itsblackoveryonderhill Fri 05-Apr-13 12:19:53

Oh, I just want to add though that when my Mam was still in hospital and we didn't know what the outcome would be, I did discuss with my Dad about getting a bungalow/house closer to me so that could help more and he just said 'we'll see'

I'm not saying that I would never care of my parents. I do that every time I visit by being my Dads sounding block as well as my Mam's arse wiper. But they've told me that they don't want me to ever think that I should consider doing it full time. So I don't and I won't.

MrsKoala Fri 05-Apr-13 12:21:19

Depends on the parents i think. My parents (whom i love) made it very clear they had their lives to lead from my early childhood. They worked long hours (for extra money, not just to keep a roof over our heads) and spent this going out and on holidays, while i was left at strangers houses or alone from 11yo (pre CM laws so lots of randoms who fancied earning extra cash). They sent me to Saturday school so they could go out and do their own stuff without me 'under their feet', Sunday was spent at the pub. They are very proud of this and laugh at those who adapt their lives for their children. As much as they love me, and they do, they would never have considered changing themselves for me or anyone. Therefore i now have no issue with putting them in a home should the time come.

If they had been different, my attitude would have been different. This is not punishment btw (as i said i love them - we are all going on hols together next week) but exactly what they would expect and want.

StillSeekingSpike Fri 05-Apr-13 12:21:41

We always said that my grandparents would never go into a home- then my grandma got vascular dementia. Their house was actually very dangerous for her- she would try and hit us when we tried to bathe or toilet her, she didn't sleep, and couldn't climb the stairs so was sleeping in the living room which was next to a busy road so made her even more anxious. So the care home actually calmed her and made her life better- tho' it was devastating for the rest of us.
As for the idealisation of Asian families- most if not all of the work falls on the women in the family and it can cause a lot of stress and even DV.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:24:32

That NHS programme- the husband was in complete denial and belittled the wife saying she was mad and making it up? Awful. She was crying out for help and he was still quite early on in the disease.

Those who say they would never put their parents in a home- wait until you are in the position of inflicting someone who needs 24 hour care and supervision on your family and the repercussions of that before you glibly announce its not a choice you would make. It would not just be your parents end of life care, it also means the end of your life as you know it. And that "end of life" can go on for 20 years with a dementia sufferer.

I was lucky, in some ways, that my dads condition was life limiting and we knew the end was coming. It made it easier to take on. Gosh how I value that time! But I could not have done it indefinitely.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 12:25:51

There is a middle ground between not seeing your ageing parents and being their full time carer. Most people fall into that middle group. Lots of visiting, doing shopping, arranging carers, doing admin,but not cconstant personal care.

I also see an issue with the fact that caring always seemed to fall to women, by default. Even when it is not her own parent or relative.

DIYapprentice Fri 05-Apr-13 12:28:41

Not as black and white as your DP are making out.

YABU and YANBU - I think our love for our parents should make us WANT to help them and see them. (If they did such a shit job that you don't love them, well then, that takes care of that!)

But it isnt' fair on anyone to give up their life to care for someone. We owe it to them to make sure they are happy, comfortable and safe.

If someone is just a little more frail, having them move into an adjoining granny flat or something like that is a fabulous idea. They are still living independently, but can have a bit of assistance - a few home cooked meals, opening a jar (those buggers are HARD to open!!!), putting some grocery shopping away etc. Some outside assistance can even be brought in, someone to give them a wash several times a week, etc.

But that's different to someone requiring really full on care.

Quite often the idea of a nursing home is left to the last possible moment which makes it harder all round. People don't like change when they are at their most vulnerable - they want things to stay the same.

A retirement village where you can live more independently but have the back up of moving into the more hands on care unit when needed would be less traumatic all round.

Frequent visits by family members and friends who can chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit would be far more enjoyable than seeing your child constantly stressed and unhappy and doing nothing but run around looking after everyone.

TheBigJessie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:30:33

This isn't a black and white issue of saintly adult children doing their duty versus greedy adult children incapable of being unselfish for all of three minutes.

Complex care needs, parents who weren't actually brilliant at parenting in their time (perhaps downright abusive), adult children who have children themselves, adult children who can't just drop their jobs to move in with their parents fro the next 15 years, et cetera.

TheNebulousBoojum Fri 05-Apr-13 12:32:03

Like Tee said 'Weird. This is the 3rd thread about this in as many days!'


cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 12:34:45

It did mean the end of life as i knew it but still i wouldn't change my life.
I am lucky in that my oh fully supports me, my children are now teens They were alot younger when i first started caring but my oh picked up the slack when i was not able to.
We now live in a 3 generation household. It might not work for others but somehow we have made it work for us. My mum is happy and well cared for, my husband and children are happy and sees alot more of me now then before mum moved in with us.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:34:46

I just couldn't see my Mum living with my Nan & caring for her - they would probably kill each other!

If my Nan needs more help then i'll offer to help but at present she's refusing all offers & despite her problems is still baking cakes which is more than i can cope with myself!

skratta Fri 05-Apr-13 12:35:10

Tat problem is sorted for me <orphan from childhood> (died when I was four, then when I was sixteen)

Nah, but I think it depends in circumstances, I have a step dad and because he has been in my life since I was seven (my dad died when I was four) I think that I, personally, would feel responsible for making sure he is safe and happy. Not necessarily taking him into my home, but I'd do my best to make sure he'd receive the best care, whether by the way of a care home or having a carer/assistant to help him at home. I feel responsible because he is my step dad.

Equally, if I'd grown up with an abusive parent, well, there'd be no obligation. As a,parents, you shouldn't expect that care to be rewarded when you are vulnerable, however, as an adult person, we all have a responsibility to help the vulnerable in society, and when our parents need our help, I think we SHOULD return their care. If our parents gave us no care, we are under no obligation to give them care either. It's not a duty, but I would think worse of someone if they left their vulnerable, elderly parent with no support- whether by themselves personally or by enabling them to be cared for by another person- if they had been cared for by their parent (however, as I won't ever know the full life story of someone, them, the last bit is hard to know and therefore judging without knowing).

As in, we should ALL help the vulnerable. The vulnerable include health problems which lead to a need for help or understanding, or respect, as well as children, the elderly etc; so we would be wrong not to help the vulnerable, and ultimately if your parents cared for you, then returning that care and love when THEY are at a vulnerable stage in their life,miss great, but as you can't choose to have parents or whatever, you shouldn't HAVE to support them.

Sunnysummer Fri 05-Apr-13 12:35:13

YABU, at least in some situations... caring is by far the hardest work I've ever done, home helpers and care workers are underpaid heroes,and I would never judge anyone who couldn't take it on, even for a beloved parent.

After seeing my mother care for her own mother and her aunt, I have seen unrelenting the slog of care can be and the toll it takes on the carer's own children, relationship, mental health and finances.

Having someone to stay 'while they get on their feet' at 90 is highly likely to become a permanent arrangement. And a sweet confused older lady can still be incredibly hard to manage when she leaves gas burners and candles burning all night, or smears her bedroom in poo after a bathroom accident, or attacks you with her cane during a funny turn, to use some of our recent experiences - or even just when you realise that she is likely to need help every morning to dress and shower, and that every bathroom time is a major issue.

Like your parents, my mum has since said that she would never expect or even want me to care for her - personally I still would always try to, because we are so close and she has always been amazing to our whole family... But if dementia was involved, I'm less sure I could manage, and as for other family members, no matter how lovely they are, I would probably prioritise my DH and kids instead. Your parents sound lovely, perhaps they have seen and heard of their friends' experiences and are just trying to protect you in future.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:37:12

What are you thinking Nebulous ?

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:38:07

When i say i'd help my Nan, i'd encourage her to get paid Carers for housework & personal care if possible because i don't think she'd allow me to help her to do those things.

Sometimes parents & grandparents are very proud & would rather have strangers see them 'at their worst' rather than their relatives - i know that my Nan has that attitude.

Wishiwasanheiress Fri 05-Apr-13 12:42:21

I fully agree with u. Parents help kids then eventually kids help parents. I guess u can go one of two ways, next time comes up say hurrah we are off the hook! Or stay quiet and watch.

We both know they will ask for help. They just aren't at that place yet. And if they don't well that's daft, don't cut nose off to spite face do u?

But parents can often be very strange.

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