Brits avoiding care conversation despite concerns for parents’ health, Home Instead finds


Brits are avoiding talking to their parents about care, despite knowing they should, according a new study from Home Instead.

A third (33%) of adults admit to being concerned about their mum and dads’ physical health, yet 81% say they are reluctant to have a conversation with their parents about possible care options.

The study, conducted on 1,500 adults, also found that 40% are unwilling to have our elderly parents move in with them, even when they are unable to care for themselves.

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Six in ten put this down to the fact they have no room for them, and a further 28% said their work schedule would not allow them to look after their parents. A quarter (27%) of respondents said they simply weren’t qualified to give the level of care they would need.

Two in ten of those surveyed said they would end up arguing with their mum or dad if they came to live with them, while 15% said their partner wouldn’t want their in-laws moving in full time.

Despite all this reluctance, over a quarter (28%) of those polled admit they have serious concerns that their parents aren’t currently safe living on their own, while 29% feel their parents are lonely.

Martin Jones, CEO Home Instead UK, said: “Despite many of us not being able to look after our parents ourselves, talking to them about their future care needs is incredibly hard, as this research has shown.

“However, our experience as one of Britain’s leading carers proves that even if the best solution isn’t immediately clear, it is so much better to have the ‘care conversation’ sooner rather than later. Broaching the subject with your parents now will leave them happier, healthier and safer in the long run, and will mean you’re not in a situation whereby you find yourself rushing and panicking to make what is one of the most important decisions of both your and their lives.”

Nearly two in ten adults (18 %) are worried they will end up being the primary carer of their parents, while 17% worry their mum and dad will be unwilling to discuss the “next steps” when living in their own home becomes untenable.

Overall, 73% admit to feeling guilty about the thought of putting their parents into a care facility, while 48% admit their parents would hate being in a home.

According to the data, 42% of adults are “only too aware” of how much their parents love their own home while 38% worry they will not be looked after properly if they do end up in residential care.

Of those who have had the difficult conversation with their relatives, a quarter (25%) said their parents got upset when the subject was broached, while 24% said they got defensive and 14 asked if they could live with their family.

Other subjects Brits feel uncomfortable speaking to their parents about include their death (33%), their funeral (31%), their will (22%), and their finances (19 %).

Speaking on the results, psychologist Dr Linda Papapdoupolos, said: “As social beings, connection is key but often we avoid difficult and uncomfortable conversations in the hope that whatever issue it is we are dealing with, will go away without us needing to confront it directly- ultimately it feels easier to avoid than to confront.

“However, when it comes to ageing, time waits for no one, and you can’t do anything to stop it. So, despite our natural aversion to awkwardness, it is always so much better to speak to your parents about ageing and care sooner rather than later. Yes, they might be initially offended at the suggestion they can’t be independent forever, and yes, you might get upset about acknowledging the fact that your parents won’t be with you forever, but in the long run, talking now means you and your loved ones are more likely to be happier later.”

Four in 10 adults polled were confused about what a residential care home provided, while 50% had no idea what in home care consists of and the same percentage have never heard about respite care.

To encourage adults to speak to their elderly parents about care, Home Instead has released a specially devised card game. The game, called The Game of your Life, will feature talking points to aid conversation about care and other matters, and elicit light-hearted, nostalgic memories.

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke