Is it a child’s responsibility to care for their elderly parents?

Caring for one or more frail parent can be demanding. 

Caring for one or more frail parent can be demanding. 

Certain cultures believe it’s mandatory for children to care for their elderly parents, because as a child their parents cared for them. 

Loosing a spouse, or experiencing disability or age related frailty, are a few reasons why elderly parents move in with their ‘adult’ children. 

In some families, it’s ideal for an elderly parent to live with a child, however this isn’t always the case. As a parent grows older, they require more space, care and time. In certain instances, their children’s home may no longer be an appropriate setting if there is no accessible bed room, toilet or walk in shower. 

This is when the child might need to look into home care for their parent/s, which is usually frowned upon. 

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In January, a UK health minister made the comment that people, have just as much of a ‘duty’ to look after their elderly, as they do for their own children, The Telegraph reported. 

David Mowat said that he was ‘struck’ by the fact that while nobody questions the fact that mothers and fathers care for their own children, society doesn’t do the same for their elderly. 

Mowat made the comments after the UK government said they had no ‘final answer’ on how it was going to cope with the booming costs of social care.

“We need to start thinking as a society about how we deal with care of our own parents,” he said. “One of the things that has struck me as I’ve been doing this role is that nobody ever questions the fact that we look after our children, that’s just obvious. Nobody ever says it is a caring responsibility, it’s just what you do.”

On the other hand, baby boomers are worried they won’t be able to care for their elderly parents in the future.

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Family dynamics are complicated as it is, especially when three generations are living together. If you’ve never really got along with your parents, it can even be more difficult.

Distance is another factor to consider. Should the child give up their work, to move in with their elderly parents? Or, should elderly parents change their postcodes to move in with their children’s family?

However, the main issue is the care. In this day of age, we all work, and if elderly parents need full-time care, living with their children might not be the best option. 

Nearly 250,000 people entered aged care in 2015-16, the Australian Government reported. 

According to the 2016 Census of Population and Housing in Australia, more elderly people live with family members in seperate dwellings, but as people age, they are likely to undergo changes in their living arrangements.

Between 65-74 years, 3.6 per cent of men and 9.5 per cent of women were living with relatives, and in the 88 years or over group, 7.3 per cent men and 14.8 per cent women, lived with relatives.

What do you think? Should children feel obliged to care for their elderly parents? Have you cared for an elderly relative or parent?