Should elderly parents be cared for by their children?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Abu Bishr, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Everybody

    In certain cultures especially Eastern cultures it is mandatory for the children to care for their elderly parents.

    What are your views either as an elderly or would-be elderly parent with children, or as an (adult) child with elderly parents?

    One argument in favour of children caring for their elderly parents is that they looked after you and cared for you when you were little and helpless, and now that they are old and helpless or just generally finding it difficult to get around, you should be caring for them.

    Also, in your view, is it a good idea to send your elderly parents or allow them to go to an old age home or daycare center? In certain cultures, this is frowned upon. What do you think?
  2. maxiogee Banned

    In certain cases it is ideal that a parent be looked after by one, or more (on a rotating basis) of their children.
    However, there are times when parents require more space, care, and or time, than a child can give them.
    There is no frowning in Ireland when a parent goes into a care home. There is some frowning if there are children who could be looking after them and aren't. But, as with all family matters, the outsiders don't know the details of why, so I think it is inappropriate for them to draw conclusions.
  3. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russia, sending your parents to an old age home would certainly be frowned upon. It's the adult child (or children) who should look after their parents. But if your parents require special care, there is nothing wrong in hiring a nurse to look after them at home.
  4. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    Here in Spain it depends. certainly it is OK if children care about elderly parents, but many times this is not possible. So many times what we do is to pay someone to take care of parents, and if they are very ill it is OK too if children sent them to a Special Care Home.
    What is really frowned uopn is when the children send their parents to an State Nursing Home... and many do
  5. maxiogee Banned

    "Inviting"? Do you mean 'hiring'?
    In Ireland it would be prohibitively expensive for most people to hire a nurse to look after someone in their home.
    Most couples require two incomes to pay a mortgage and raise their children. Any "extras" such as nursing care for an ill - or even just daytime "care" for a housebound - parent would play havoc with the tight financial constraints most people seem to be under.
  6. Joca

    Joca Senior Member

    Florianópolis, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I agree with both posts from Maxiogee. This is often a very delicate situation. Suppose it is an only child having to look after ... both parents. This can be a burden too large for him or her.

    I think that whatever solution the whole family settles on, the important thing is that the child doesn't stop seeing, visiting and talking to the parent.
  7. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I love this language twist. I know that 'for' and 'about' are interchangable in many instances but not this one.

    This is so cute.
    Children sending parents.
    My experience is that the parents make the decision and tell the children what to do.
    My mother made her own decisions for quite a few decades and she decided that she is not ready to relinquish executive power quite yet.
    Children place their parents where the parents tell the children to place them.

    Yes, I agree. This is where the caring stops in some cases. Sometimes the children can not afford an alternative placement but is this not ultimately as a result of the lifestyle the children inherited from the parent.
    The parent placed uncaringly in care must also bear the responsibility for the placement. The parent raises the child and the child reaps what is sown.

  8. Joca

    Joca Senior Member

    Florianópolis, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I also feel that way. I agree with you. I had also thought along those lines. Not every child-parent rapport is smooth all the way, and often at the end there is a lot of resentment from both sides, maybe more from the child's. I know a parent can mistreat a child, but rather strangely (maybe not), as I age, I think that it can be the other way, too. Well, unless the elderly parent is an unbending rascal, I wish parent and child would make time to reconcile near the end of the former's life. It can break your heart, when you don't know what is behind it, to witness a forsaken dying old person. Maybe I say so because I am heading towards it more quickly than ever before... Yes, I guess I am talking about forgiveness, but I am aware this is not an easily available resource.

  9. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Yes. Thank you for correcting me.:)

    Things are slightly different here, I guess.
    If you want to hire a nurse via a special agency, yes, it will be very expensive. But you can ask your friends if they know someone who can look after your elderly relatives at home. It's usually a woman with medical education who has considerable job experience at a hospital. And hiring such nurse will be far less expensive (partly because you don't need to pay to the agency).
  10. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    Hey! I'm a student. I mix up the prepositions all the time. They are a nighmare, not a language twist.

    But many are sent! At least, here. Public hospitals get crowded with old people on Friday afternoons or the beginning of holidays. Their sons or daughters just leave them at the door and go.
  11. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    They are hillarious and so revealing of the person.

    This must be a joke.
    I must be thick because I just can't find the punchline.

  12. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Having a parent in a home for the aged is seen with deep distrust. A state one is certainly frowned upon unless of course people know that the children could not afford a private one and could not take care of the parent.

    Indeed most people of my parents' generation wish to have daughters for this specific reason: to have someone to take care of them when they grow old. Some parents however mean by that to have someone to keep an eye out for them.

    I will use my parents as an example since they are typical examples of what most Greeks think as appropriate.

    Dad has a vague idea of what we are supposed to do. He himself wanted us to keep his widowed mother at home but, since after the separation he was left alone with my brother he reasoned that he couldn't really do it (help his mother who suffereed from a rapidly progressive case of dementia) since he was working and placed her at a nearby home for the aged. I am to look after him but the exact way is unclear since he has given up hopes of me having him in my future home.
    This is quite common. While in the past you were expected to keep your aging parents at your home, many now see that this is not possible or fair. They have therefore stopped considering it an option but, since that is what their idea of "taking care of your parent(s)" is , they are unsure what they expect from you.

    Mom on the other hand wants us to hire a compantion using her pension if possible (chipping in a bit if possible too) and visit her as often as possible (which translates at least once every ten days) and calling her as often as possible to see that everything's OK. In case she suffers from an illness that makes it impossible for a mere companion to be of material help she expects us to spend her last years at a home for aged people with visits and calls as mentioned above.

    In other words, some people object to such homes as a general idea whereas others see them as a more or less inevitable evil in case of serious illness. They view such homes with scepticism but not necessarily as a place to dump your parents when they are old.

    The obligation that comes from being raised by them and cared by them while you were young, may be faulty logic but is still alive and kicking I should add.
  13. Blondie43223

    Blondie43223 New Member

    Ohio, USA
    The United States
    Je pense ainsi parce que si le votre salut d'ici là alors vous prend soin d'eux
    voyez-vous plus tard
  14. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    It is not a joke, unfortunately. No punchline to it, dear.,,. Does that mean you are not thick?:confused: :D

    Well, to the point, it is heard of, that in summer holidays old people and animals are simply abandoned. After the holidays, the old people are collected again.

    On the other hand, this is the only country I know, where children actually take care of their elders at home. In Germany for the same "work" a subvention is paid by the government, and a very high one, too. In Spain, not a penny is given. The family not only does the job, but also puts the money. Unreasonably hard on the families. Then these rare cases occur. And the family is ripped apart by the news. Nobody asks why. Nobody wants to know, as nobody is going to take their charge either, especially not the government.
  15. Bilma Senior Member

    Spanish Mexico
    In Mexico you find the same situation. Kids taking care of parents at home, providing money too in case the parents do not have any.
  16. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I fair dinkum can't understand why people think that the government should step in to take over if the parents and kids didn't look after themselves.
    It should be absolutely the kid's responsibility with any who fall through the cracks to be looked after by the state but I can't see this an an obligation of the state in all cases.

    My mother will never be in a state run anything and dad is well beyond their clutches and sleeping peacefully with The Earth.

  17. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    I think it's ideal for children to care for their elderly parents, rather than send them to an "assisted living facility" or "nursing home". I used to think the recent proliferation of these was due to selfish baby boomers and Gen X'ers not caring about their parents, but I've read that many elderly parents today actually PREFER themselves to live away from their children, so as to be independent or not to place a burden on them. Perhaps American culture is becoming even more individualistic. But I like the "traditional" way of grandparents, parents, and children living together under one roof.
  18. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    My opinion is that when you spawn a new life, this life is independent from you and is free. So, when you take care of your child, you can't do that in exchange for something you expect to get from them in the future, but out of pure disinterested kindness. Therefore, if that child, having become a man, choses to abandon yourself to your fate, he can only be accused of unkindness or inhuman behaviour, but he doesn't have actually any moral obligation derived from the fact that this very person that he refuses to take care of took care of him when he was a child. However, that doesn't mean nothing to me.
  19. Ecossaise Senior Member


    Well, of course, at 25 that is an easy statement to make. However, awareness of obligation is what differentiates us from animals. I would be distressed to think that my parent is in discomfort when I can offer assistance.

    Many people expect to remain part of a family group, and care extends both up and down within that group, though the modern world is forcing change as families fracture and move away from each other with increasing "globalisation" .
  20. Joca

    Joca Senior Member

    Florianópolis, Brazil
    Brazilian Portuguese

    I admit I was a little taken aback by Ernest's post. But then again I thought: Well, he is entitled to his opinion and he is being very sincere and straightforward. Further reflection led me to realize that maybe he was referring, maybe even without knowing it, to specific cases, such as a parent who was totally abusive of his or her child and now, at the dusk of life, demands all the attention and care from the child. Or any other parent for that matter who would have his or her child relinquish their own life entirely just to give exclusive support to their ailing parent. Obviously, such extreme cases only serve to show that the obligations of a child to their parents are not borderlesss.

    On the other hand, I agree with Ecossaise: human society is based on solidarity, which is as important as food. What can you expect of a man who refuses to take care of his parents or at least to see that they are properly looked after by someone else by default? How will this man treat his own children, when or if he has children, his own friends, his own community?

    Deny it as we may, every human action is based upon reciprocity as well. We do things, even as parents, because we also hope that, in return, things will be done to us as well. What is wrong about that? I think it is wrong to want your child to live just for you, but it is not wrong to have some expectation that he or she won't abandon you when you most need them.

    And since I take that human society is also based on morality, I understand that ... yes, it is a moral obligation for a child to be responsible for their elderly parents (if it is not moral, what kind of obligation is it then?), as much as it is a moral stance for a parent to not choke their child with impossible obligations.

  21. heidita Banned

    Madrid, Spain
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    I have sometimes spoken on the board about this nice Greek family I know in Germany . The mother of the hotel's owner has been brought to Germany now. Her daughter felt it was her obligation. She also has a fast advancing dementia. Hell for everybody. The mother doesn' speak any German so all the helps provide by German authorities, which are incredibly good, cannot be taken advantage of. The mother needs to have company all the time and also for her, who has lived in Greece all her life, it has been highly disturbing to take her away from her well-known environment.

    This is also true for many young people. It is easy to say, listen I would take care of my parents at home. Ok, what if you don't have the place? What about the money? If the parent is ok, not so much of a problem, but what about dementia or Alzheimer? People need company all day long, not easy to provide if you don't have the money. Unless you are willing to give up your own life of course.
    Ideal no doubt. My husband's grandmother lived with them for the last 10 years of her life. He dearly loved his grandmother and got to know what life in a close family was like. But then, my mother in law sort of stopped living her own life to live the life of her mother. She could not be left alone, she was handicapped and slightly demented...Are you prepared for that?

    I agree to this. One must do what one can, but I don't think the solution is to stop living.

    It also depends on the country you are living. In Germany as mentioned before, all kind of helps are given to make life easier for the handicapped, elderly...
    But here in Spain and as far as I have seen in Mexico, this is not easy to achieve. Not to say: it is impossible.
  22. IxOhOxI

    IxOhOxI Member

    I do understand your point of questioning. In my culture which is thai, as we generally grow up and live in the big family (included the grandparents and elderly relatives), we are all taught by the ancients to be thankful for benefits received and do reciprocate our parents and ones who favor us. In Buddhism, I as the buddhist was taught to honour the benevolence of my parents in which they brought me up and provided me my very first education. There's the metaphor; if we would write to describe the gratitudes of our parents on the sky instead of a paper, the peak of Meru mount. as a pen, the ocean as the ink as far as the sky is covered with the letters, the mount. erodes, and the ocean parches, however we could not write it all. The thing is though, everyday we are growing up while our parents are getting old, as you know, the elders can't live by themselves (if they don't get financial aid from the gov.) or if they could, it would be extremely difficult to make a living. So then, who else to take care of the parents if not their children? It is most likely the duty when they are ill and they need to be taken care of. I'd imagine the time they get very old like 90 years old or so, surely they wouldn't walk or move like they could before and yes it's pretty hard to go from place to place. Anyway, most of them don't love solitude, I am quite certain that they would be happy to see their children and grandchildren all present. Nowadays, the parents are sent to the Elder Care due to the fact that their children and now are matured don't have time to look after them but this isn't a good thing to do, it's like leaving them behind and letting someone take care of them. Since, many elders, on their minds, they often think that they are as useless, this may cause stress and loneliness within their hearts and feeling somewhat neglected.

    If you even realize when you were little, they took a very good care of you, even their life could be given for you or they could die in your stead. They raised you till you could youself earn a livelihood. Just guess how much money they spent on bringing you up when you were in your mother's belly until they let you get your own living.
    And the question
    This doesn't even need a second to think it over, all I have written is already the answer.
  23. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Regardless of culture, habit, customs, it always helps to think of what you would like your children to do for you when you become elderly. Just mentally switch the roles...
  24. floray90

    floray90 Senior Member

    Exeter, UK
    Well,maybe it's not mandatory but you'd naturally want to take care of the people who brought you up, wouldn't you? It is ultimately the child's responsibility to at the most see that his/her parents are happy & well cared for.
  25. Goddess Mystyxx Member

    Latin City of the South
    English / Chavacano / Spanish
    I totally agree with this rationale. Parents whether younger or older, should be treated with the same benefit. They have been there when we started in life, helped us and cared for us when we are unable to take care of ourselves. They deserve better treatment than to send them off to a home care. Some parents would request for it, that would be fine, but for most, they would prefer to live on a familiar environment and familiar faces they have loved for so many years.

    In the Filipino culture, we value family ties so much. If our parents grow old, we would prefer them to live within our care. Despite financial difficulties, we can easily ask a relatives a hand or two with the task of caring. Being close knitted (cousins, aunts, nieces etc), relatives are always there to lend a helping hand.

    We do not see our elderlies as burdens especially not our parents. They have only very little time left in life, it is not fair to just let them go away without us giving them the proper care and love they need.
  26. Epilio

    Epilio Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    To the question: it depends on personal circumstances. Not everyone can take care of his parents. Sometimes it's simply impossible. It used to be easier, but the it seems that the more a society "advances" the more difficult it is. Families are smaller, so it's more complicated to do. My grandma has eight siblings, so my great-grandma was cared without any problem, but now it's a different situation (it's like living de facto under a one-child policy). On the other hand jobs are demanding, and elders tend to require much time and many medical cares that not everyone is able to perform. Although I consider it as a moral duty, not always is easy to do (I ain't write nothing new, anyhow).

    It's also true, nevertheless, that we live in a more individualistic societies and some folks think that elders are burdens to their "personal development", so in some cases it's an important factor when deciding to take care of them or not. I don't like the idea of seeing them as burdens, in fact they enrich others with their experience and wisdom. Each one is free to decide anyway.
  27. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    Should elderly parents be cared for by their children?

  28. Rozax

    Rozax Senior Member

    English - USA
    I think my parents would prefer to live in a retirement community with in-home care. They value their independence. It would be heartless if my siblings and I refused to visit them, though.
  29. Topsie

    Topsie Senior Member

    Avignon, France
    This reminds me of a discussion (more of an argument really) that I had with some friends recently. The man considered it perfectly natural for his ageing parents to move in with the couple, but seemed rather put out when I asked how he'd feel about living with his mother-in-law! His wife said she wouldn't mind it if only they lived in a château and all the parents lived in a separate wing - and she didn't have to look after them!

    (I know I'm probably being extremely selfish, but I wouldn't want either my own parents or my parents-in-law living with me! In the same way I'm sure I would hate to inflict myself on my children...)
  30. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    It's difficult to say what is ideal. Some people would hate the atmosphere of a retirement home and prefer to find some way to stay at home. Other elderly people may feel more secure at a home and like the activities and the contact of people of their age. We cannot forget also the incredible cost of living in a nursing home: sometimes $2000 USD per month.
    What I believe, is that is paramount for retired people to prepare for their twilight years. They must express their wishes (whatever they are) to their loved ones/children while they are still in sound mind and body and of course do what is necessary to make that happen. If it is possible to live in some capacity with children, that too must be planned..
    In my experience, far too many people do not plan and it can turn into a nightmare for everyone concerned. Ending ones life in chaos is terrible.

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