Let’s talk: Do you worry about becoming a burden to your family?

A huge portion of Australians fear they will become a burden to their families after they retire, a new survey
Let's Talk

A huge portion of Australians fear they will become a burden to their families after they retire, a new survey has found.

According to the survey by the Australian National University (ANU), 45 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men are worried about how their retirement and age will impact their families.

While it’s common for many people to worry about the personal financial strain and social aspects that can come with retirement, addressing the idea of becoming a ‘burden’ to your family is something that is rarely spoken about in public.

Whether it’s due to health issues or simply old age, children often need to step in and increase the level of care and attention for their parents as they age.

Despite the fact that many Australian seniors would have done the same thing for their parents, there is an increasing fear around forcing their children into the same situation.

The survey found it is mostly women who carry this fear.

Professor Matthew Gray from ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods speculates the reason more women than men worry about burdening their children is because they have the ‘carer’ instinct ingrained in them, reports the ABC.

In other words, women often spend so much of their time caring for other people that they can’t stand the thought of being on the other side of the equation.

“Perhaps that awareness of what it’s like to be a carer might make you more concerned about becoming a burden as well,” Professor Gray said.

Is this something we should be worrying about though? Isn’t one of the benefits of having children that they can look after you in your later years?

Some seniors say it is a child’s responsibility to care for their parents when they get older; it’s almost like returning the favour after all the years they put in taking care of their kids.

Other’s say they don’t want to put any extra pressure on their children and would rather find a way to take care of themselves without involving their children.

What do you think?

Do you worry about becoming a burden to your family? Do you think it’s a child’s responsibility to take care of their parents as they age?

  1. Yes I do worry,but mainly about dying on my own,I have 2 wonderful sons who love me dearly, but if I was to die suddenly I would have no one with me.One. lives Vic the other Nth Qld.

    • Doreen try not to worry about things in the future live for today and make the most of ever day. Always have something in your life to look forward to. All the best now stop worrying

    • Suźanne Kader not always. My mother in law died in a wonderful hospice. My husband and her other 3 adult children were with her all the time. They sang to her, drank port with her and filled her time with happiness. She was pain free and happy when she died.

  2. Try not to think about it. We have our health at the moment & are currently grey nomads just loving life

  3. Thanks Dawn,I didn’t have a worry in the world until I lost my husband 15 months ago.He was my rock for 52 years you never really ever get used to being on your own.

    • It’s when we are bereaved that worry steps in for after all from birth to 2008 when my Peter died I’d never lived alone .
      I downsized to a lifestyle village and we look out for each other.
      💐Don’t waste your energy on worrying ,it’s all beyond our control . I know it’s easy to. say But hang on there Doreen ,💐 your husband is still watching out for you X

    • Dear Doreen, I am so sorry for your loss.May I say that it is early days yet…grief is the worst pain we are sent to endure but keep on getting through each day and one day down the track you will acknowledge the pain is still there but you are living again…give yourself time…sending hugs.xxx

    • beryl  

      I’m so sorry for your loss Doreen and because it’s a recent loss your fears are very valid and you wont ever get over losing your hubby but in time the pain will lessen. We all do things differently and in our own time, I’ve ben there and still feel crappy at times. I wish you well

  4. I think about it, but I know my kids well enough and know that that have their own lives to live and will not want the burden of looking after me, that is why I am going into a 55 and over village this year, I have a lot of younger families living in my street, but they are not interested in the older generation, I am very close to my neighbours in the next street all my age thank goodness and we enjoy each other’s company and look out for each other

    • I’ve moved now in over 55 village ,best thing I could have done ,look out for each other,but not invasive ,share good times ,memories and worries ,you know you are not the only one , it’s a big world and our kids have spread their wings which is how it should be

  5. I certainly do not want my two children two have to look after me or my husband why well i looked after my mom at the time I reached the change of life so I was coping with mom Altimeters and cancer of the throat were her meals had to be blended my change of life was terrible I had one husband and one girl at home to who also needed my help mom was twenty four seven and no help from any one .Now my two girls are married with children coping with work mortgage schools and all the other things life throes at them no I could not expect them to look after us and we don’t want them to so no home no children there is only one way out when we are ready

  6. Actually I don’t believe we are the responsibility of our kids to take care of us in old age, and that is one of the reasons I decided to move into a retirement resort 6 years ago whilst I was still working. I don’t see my 3 kids that often now the Grandkids are grown up as they all have very busy life’s, and I would NEVER expect them to have to care for me, don’t get me wrong I don’t think I would be happy if I have to go to a age care home. However I would rather that than to become a burden on my family, I know some people think their kids should be willing to even expect them to, however they did not ask to be born nor is it their responsibility to care for us.

    • Lee Horrocks, it’s the best decision I ever made, however I would recommend to make the move while your able to cope with all the packing and unpacking, because unless you can afford to pay for a moving company which does the lot for you it’s hard work!

    • Sorry just because your grandchildren are grown up is not a reason not to see your kids so much .We as parents are there for our kids and our grandchiĺdren when ever needed .So it does not hurt for them to give a little back .Meaning of family has change so much these days .No child are asked to be born just like us but we did not find our parents to be a burden .Some kids of today very selfish as your life does not fit in to their social life some cant even be bothered to visit their parents .Very different when they want something though .My opinion .

    • Sorry Vicki but you sound very bitter, my 2 boys have there own business and when they are finished working about 45-50 hours a week they then work at the weekend on quotes, my daughter also works very hard in her business as well and the way I see it they are entitled to a life of their own, I did not give birth to my three kids so that they care for me now or in the future!

    • Vicki Orr, my two daughters have their own life to live, we are there for each other, I don’t expect them to abandon me when I get to a stage where I can’t take care of myself, in no way do I want them to feel obligated to take care of me to though.

    • I’m with you, I didn’t have kids they could look after me in my old age , it’s not their responsibility . To visit to call to make sure they are cared for properly , ok . But to become their charge no .
      My parents did not look after their parents in their homes , it is not my children’s responsibility to do it for us . But if they choose to that’s fine also , but it is not a requirement .
      Your children just finish raising their children , it’s their time then to do what they want before they leave this world , otherwise they would see marriage and children as the end of their free life , I don’t want that for my kids .

    • Vicki Orr : Totally agree Vicki, we cared for our parents and grandparents as they grew older and needed support. I tend to think it is our own fault that we did not teach our children family responsibility, although society changes and has a strong impact on how our children think.

    • Trish Daley : My mother worked full time and still cared for her mother. Children are too selfish these days and we have allowed that to happen. None of us expect our children to have to care for us as we cared for our parents and them before us. In fact I would not want mine to be taking care of me, but that is my personal view, I don’t think I will end up in an aged care home because my health is precarious to say the least, but I don’t want my grandsons having to worry about if I am OK.

    • Speak for yourself Joan Rowe, my kids are far from selfish, and I didn’t give birth to them just for them to care for me, I know who is selfish and it isn’t our kids, you need to take a good look at yourself!

    • Trish Daley WOW nasty nasty. You call others bitter. Shame on you.
      And if you actually read my words, I think you missed a line. ” None of us expect our children to have to care for us as we cared for our parents and them before us”
      And if you are being picky, it is “their business” not “there business” different meanings, different spelling.

  7. I don’ think there is much chance that my son would look after me, I will just look after myself till I can’t anymore then check out of life 🙂 That is ok , when I had my son the thought of him ever looking after me never entered my head, I had him because I wanted to look after him and so he could live his own life when he became an adult

  8. Mine all lives overseas ,so by the time I’m ready to check out I hope I can do it for myself . ( my body , my choice ).

  9. I don’t worry about it. We’ve planned ahead, as much as one can, so now I take it day by day and adjust accordingly.

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