For anyone who has had to become their parent’s carer, whether it’s full time, part time or occasional, you’ll know how difficult it can be. Seeing your elderly mum or dad in pain or just unable to do things for themselves is heartbreaking enough, but it’s this recent story that sheds light on a darker side to caring – your own emotions and turmoil.
The baby boomer generation has a predicament right now – they’ve also become the sandwich generation. They may have adult children still living at home, but also elderly parents to look after.
Melissa Peacock was caring for her mother Noreen when sadly, Noreen died. But what happened next is shocking – she carried on as if nothing happened. While we can’t speculate on a current inquest, it at least gives an insight into the enormous amount of pressure and mental strain that having a sick parent can have on a person.
Melissa was her mother’s sole carer after she was diagnosed with dementia in 2009, reports SMH.
After her mother’s body was found by real estate agents conducting an inspection, Melissa told police that she got shingles in July 2013, which incapacitated her, at the same time as her mother fell ill with a vomiting bug, said Ian Bourke, SC, counsel assisting the inquest into Mrs Peacock’s death.
“She claimed … she shut the door to her bedroom and told nobody about the death and carried on as though her mother was still alive,” Mr Bourke said. “She told police she was in denial.”
The inquest heard that Melissa worked six days a week at a northern Sydney private hospital, while also caring for her mother. She worked hard but still wanted to care for her ailing mother, and refused to put her into care.
As her mum got increasingly ill, Melissa developed a drinking problem. “Unfortunately despite the pressure Melissa was under … she did not ask for help.
“It appears on the evidence gathered that the level of care given to Noreen diminished significantly during the first half of 2013”.
The inquest is ongoing but will be under the Mental Health Act.
It is a valuable message to all carers and those with elderly parents to seek help if you feel it is too much. Your own mental health is important not only for your wellbeing, but so you can provide the best care. And if you cannot, that’s OK too.
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