Let’s Talk: Who is responsible for looking after our elderly parents?

If you’ve got an elderly parent then you know all too well how much effort is involved with looking after

If you’ve got an elderly parent then you know all too well how much effort is involved with looking after them, even if they live in a nursing home.

But, according to one politician, it should be up to you and you only to look after your elderly parents.

That’s right, a British minister has issued his controversial opinion about the growing cost of social care, and he believes that we have as much responsibility to look after our elderly parents as we do our own children.

The Guardian reports that David Mowat made the comments while speaking about tackling the care crisis and how we deal with caring for the ageing population.

He told a committee on communities and local government that caring for our ageing parents was a “responsibility in terms of our life cycle”.

“One of the things that has struck me is no one ever questions that we look after our children – that is obvious. No one says that is a caring responsibility, it is what we do,” he said.

“I think some of that logic and some of the way we think about that in terms the volume of numbers that we are seeing coming down the track will have to impinge on the way that we think about caring for our parents.”

All over the world there is a growing “crisis” of social and aged care, as a large number of the population grow older.

As the Guardian reports, the Local Government Association in the UK believes that the social care system is on brink of collapse.

And it’s making politician such as Mowat concerned that governments will spend more of their income on supporting the elderly and disabled.

"What we do know when we look at the GDP that we spend on care, we spend more than some countries like Germany that we would consider to be comparative and more than Canada,” Mowat told the committee.

“Over a period of time, the amount of money our society will spend on care will increase. You then get into what the options are and that is a wider question. There have been a lot of reviews. We are unusual in Europe in that we don’t have a social insurance system or long-term savings scheme.”

So, what’s the solution?

Well, Mowat believes that we should feel the responsibility to care for our elderly parents – and that means our children should feel responsible for caring for us as we get older.

But his views are causing controversy on the Internet and on social media.

The founder of Ageing without Children Kirsty Woodard has penned an article for The Guardian, raises a point many of us may have forgotten, what about the older people who don’t have children?

She writes that there are 1 million people over-65 in the UK who have don’t have any children.

Woodard quotes from The Generation Strain report, which was published in 2014.

“As the baby boomer generation ages, a growing ‘family care gap’ will develop as the number of older people in need of care outstrips the number of adult children able to provide it. This is expected to occur for the first time in 2017,” she wrote.

And she took aim at Mowat over his comments.

“The idea that older people may not have family members who are able to help, or may have no family at all, seems not to have occurred to the government,” Woodard wrote.

“The fact that 92% of all informal care is already provided by the family also seems to pass them by.”

Tell us, what do you think?

Do you think we should be responsible for caring for our ageing parents? Would you expect your children to care for you when you get older?











  1. Waugh  

    I certainly don’t expect it but if they decided that was was they wanted to do that would be lovely.

    • Clare  

      I agree. I would never expect it, but would probably love it. If I felt I would be a bother, I would like the opportunity to legally end my own life. I would never burden a child. They deserve to lead a life of their own.

    • gail  

      Yes i feel the same .i have never excpected my children to take care of me i do not think it is there duty they have a life to live also.

  2. Ally Morgan  

    As long as they put Voluntary Euthanasia in place that would be fine! I do not EVER wish to have my children responsible for me!

    • Paul  

      How repulsive! Save my children from this responsibility by having someone kill me instead.

  3. Margaret Nolland  

    It was a pleasure not a duty to look after my parents after what they had done for me. My Dad was sick when my Mum died so he then came to live with us. I was an only child so no help.

  4. Gaye  

    We cared for our parents and my husbands parents until the passed away. They cared for us as children so why not!!

  5. Elsa  

    Our parents looked after us when we were young, it is only natural we look after them as they age. In Asian countries , this pratice is normal. Not many countries have Aged Care.

  6. Elizabeth Gardner  

    I do not know who should be responsibile for the elderly, certainly I would suggest that the family of that person should be involved with looking after the parent after all they are the reason the family is there in the first place surely that deserves some respect. But hacving said that my children and the children of others I know are not the least bit interested in even considering looking after an aging parent. too much trouble.

  7. Gwen Casey  

    Having to care for my elderly mum is a pleasure and for a soon to be 89 she is still active and enjoys her life. I have worked in aged care for some 30 years and it is usually necessity that places a person in a care situation. Some conditions simply cannot be managed by us caring family members, I have only witnessed a few cases of families not wanting to help their parents.

  8. Lyn Hassall  

    Some people are going to be awfully busy – going to work, looking after children and aging parents. In my case, between grandchildren and parents getting older, although retired, I get tired. But, of course, the politicians mean financially. Well, mate, we aren’t/weren’t all paid at the same rate as you.

  9. Claire  

    Caring for parents with dementia cannot be done by one person. It takes seven days a week and 24 hours a day to do it. They are not babies they are adults and very clever at escaping. They just don’t remember things, and often remember their adult children as being very young. So when they find themselves in a house they don’t remember, with people who say they their offspring who should still be little children, they are afraid. So you can’t leave them alone at all to have a rest yourself let alone a good night’s sleep. Parents with a healthy mind may be a different story.

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