Dilemma: I resent having to spend my retirement caring for my elderly parents

Jo Brand / 03 January 2018

A widowed reader wants to travel in his retirement but feels stuck caring for his elderly parents.

Dilemma: I want to travel but I'm caring for my elderly parents

I’m 74 and a widower. I find myself having to spend more time caring for my increasingly frail elderly parents, whom I love. But I don’t feel equipped and confess I’m resentful that I have to be on hand all the time.

I’d love to travel a little. I feel stuck, as though ‘that’s it’ for my life and I’m getting a bit depressed. I’m an only child, by the way.

Jo Brand's advice

I can understand why you feel like that… However committed a son you may be, it’s not a very exciting prospect looking after your parents for what may feel like a substantial part of the rest of your life, is it? I wish I could wave a magic wand and sort it all for you – alas, life is never that simple. But there are some ways round this problem. Let’s list them.

Firstly, have you had a frank discussion with your parents? I’m sure they would understand your feelings and be prepared to do what they could financially to help. If they own their house, would they be prepared to use equity release to pay for carers while you travel? Many people feel equity release is unfair as it reduces the amount their children can inherit. Well, ‘their children’ are you, so it’s worth discussing this with them.

Have you talked to them about respite care, where they stay elsewhere while you travel? One of the many charities that supports older people may be able to help you find out what’s available locally. Or, if you contact social services and arrange a carer’s assessment, you may find that the local authority would fund some respite care.

Alternatively, have social services assessed whether your parents are eligible for home care? It may well be that they could cope if carers dropped in a few times a day. Let’s just say you lived 100 miles away, were still working and couldn’t manage their care, then something would have to happen. (I’m not suggesting you move 100 miles away!)

If you’re not careful, and don’t allow yourself some proper ‘me’ time, the resentment will build, so it is imperative you find an arrangement that suits you all. I would go down the home-care assessment route first.

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