When it’s parents who need support

Maureen Kennedy
Maureen Kennedy

As children, we think our parents are invincible but as they get older they can suffer the odd setback and need help.

It may be a brief illness and it’s a temporary thing, or a more serious problem and their needs are greater, but what starts as lending a hand can spiral into much more.

Clare’s parents live 15 miles away and she and her husband work long hours. Her mum is severely disabled but her dad looks after her refusing to let her go into care insisting he can cope. Sensing they weren’t eating properly, Clare cooked every Saturday morning and took meals to them.

When she got to the house, she did a couple of hours cleaning as her dad certainly wasn’t getting round to that. And so began a routine that lasted eight years.

Working full-time and looking after her own home and family, she was exhausted and it did lead to friction with her husband.

A few weeks ago, her dad moaned about the fact that Clare and her husband would be away at Christmas. Although he would still have help over the holidays, Clare caved in to pressure and cancelled their plans to go away so they were at his house a bit more than usual over Christmas. Her family was not happy.

One day, Clare overheard her dad boasting that she had insisted on staying at home despite him telling her it wasn’t necessary. He also laughingly said it saved him a fortune having her cook and clean for him. Clare confronted her dad who said he had never asked her her to do anything for him, she had chosen to do it.

Clare was understandably furious and things have now changed. Her dad has a cleaner and Clare shops online for him so she knows that he does have food in the house.

Caring for a parent can last for years so it’s best to have a routine that works for both of you. Make sure they have the essentials at all times so you know they won’t starve.

Help out with other jobs when you can but remember a call for help doesn’t have to be answered immediately unless, of course, it’s a real emergency.

Sometimes a plea for help is actually a call for some company so find time for visits and outings, something you can both look forward to.