Helping our parents adjust to old age is part of life's cycle. Sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly, we find ourselves with more and more responsibility for looking after them. It can start with small jobs - the garden, the shopping and over time it becomes more intensive. We may watch our parents caring for each other and see them start to struggle. Our instincts are to want to help, but that help might not be welcome. Adjusting to these changing roles is a big emotional step for both parent and child.
It can be especially hard if personal or intimate care is needed. There can be so many practical things to do - organising replacement care, dealing with an army of 'professionals' (none of whom seem to realise you have a life too), and not forgetting your other responsibilities like your job, your family, your friends, your social life. No wonder caring is one of the most stressful things we can do.
Changing roles "Throughout my life Mum's been there to look after me, even after I got married Mum was around to help me and support us. Now the tables are turned and it's my turn to look after her. I don't begrudge it but sometimes I miss my Mum as she was."
Juggling care with work "It's a full time job trying to help Mum organise her care - we've had umpteen meetings with doctors, consultants, therapists, social workers - whilst I'm also trying to hold onto my own job. I just can't afford to give up work - my eldest has just started Uni and we need the money. My boss has been understanding but I hate feeling like I'm letting them down."
Dealing with the rest of the family "Dealing with my brothers is as much of a stress as dealing with Mum. One of them seems happy to let me get on with it, he says it's "too painful" to see Mum like this and that's why he doesn't visit. My other brother is the opposite, he lives 200 miles away but he phones me daily wanting updates and sticking his oar in with advice on what I'm doing wrong. He means well but it drives me potty."
Real life carers
- Sue is recently retired and cares for her mum who has Alzheimer's Disease
Carers UK : Here for you and your family
We have a wealth of advice and experience to offer. Here are our top ten places to get started
- New to caring - our beginners guide
- Thinking about giving up work to care?
- Juggling your career and caring
- Could direct payments help you buy in the help you need?
- How to deal with guilt and resentment
- Dealing with conflict within your family
- Equipment and gadgets that might help
- Preparing for when caring ends
- Join our community and talk to other carers
- Caring for your pension