Article by Fab after Fifty
Millions kept awake by older parents’ care
- Half of women with a parent aged over 65 are kept awake at night worrying about their health
- More kept awake worrying about an older parent than about money, children or work
- Ruth Langsford and Dr Dawn Harper back new campaign to raise awareness of technology that can help older people stay living safely and independently
Millions of Britons are more worried about an older parent than their money, children or job according to a new study.
Research by Centra Pulse and YouGov* found that nearly 22 million Britons are now estimated to have at least one parent who is aged 65 and over. Of these, half of women and more than a third (36%) of men questioned by Centra Pulse say they have been kept awake at night as a result of stress caused by their parents’ health.
The findings reveal that women are more likely to be kept awake worrying about an older parent (50%) than about money (45%), work (44%), their children (33%) or their own health (31%). Nearly a quarter (23%) said they feel guilty about the level of support they can provide their parent. Many people worry about the future care needs of their parents and whether these can be met in a care home setting or with the help of live-in care to cover day-to-day needs. While there are pros and cons to both options, there are a number of factors which will need to be considered when the final decision is made.
Despite more than a third (37%) living further than an hour away from their parents, one in seven (15%) women with an older parent said they had taken time off work to support their parents while 10% had been called to their parents’ home in an emergency. Two out of five said their parent had suffered a fall in the last two years alone.
Wendy Darling, Managing Director of Centra Pulse said: “A third of the population now have a parent aged over 65 and are likely to seriously worry about their welfare at some point. We found that for a significant number, this will manifest itself as stress that could have a serious impact on other aspects of their life.”
Increasing number taking advantage of telecare technology
“We would urge people in this situation to explore the range of support that is designed to ease the burden on worried relatives and carers. An increasing number of people are now taking advantage of telecare technology which allows them to stay living independently in and out of the home for longer.”
TV presenter Ruth Langsford and Dr Dawn Harper of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies are backing Centra Pulse’s campaign to raise awareness of telecare technology that can support the growing number of adults taking responsibility for their parents’ care. By instantly connecting through to a trained care professional who can arrange the appropriate support, the technology helps vulnerable people live more independently and manage complex care needs.
This Morning and Loose Women presenter Ruth said: “I have had many sleepless nights worrying about my parents’ care. My mum’s 83, fit as a fiddle and very independent, but I still worry that she’s going to fall one day, be outside on her own and not be able to get hold of me. I work a lot, have a young son and live at least an hour away so I do worry that I would not be able to get to Mum quickly in an emergency.”
“It’s a huge relief for me to know that at a touch of a button my Mum can now get the help she needs. My father had Alzheimer’s and Mum looked after him for 11 years at home – I wish I’d known about telecare technology then. It would have been ideal for him to have worn something that could tell Mum if he’d wandered off and for us to know that she could get help quickly if she needed it. My husband Eamonn was all for it too as he can see that I’ve got peace of mind now.”
Stress caused by worrying about the wellbeing of older relatives
Dr Dawn Harper said: “I cannot underestimate how much worrying about the wellbeing of older relatives stresses those closest to them. I see a lot of people who are getting terribly anxious running themselves ragged trying to keep their family together, usually holding down a job and keeping things together for mum and dad so they can stay in their own home. These people come to my surgery showing many different manifestations of stress such as high blood pressure, skin rashes and heart palpitations.
“As a GP, I think the benefits of telecare go beyond the individual who uses this kind of technology. It also supports the relatives and carers who are worrying about them in the background. This group of people is given a huge amount of reassurance by knowing the person they care for can make instant contact at any time with a trained professional who will get them the right help for their needs.”