Gransnet forums


Working women trying to look after elderly parents

(45 Posts)
Beswitched Fri 14-Feb-20 20:02:42

There has, quite rightly, been a lot of legal recognition across recent decades of the fact that more and more young mothers are remaining in the workplace.
But on the other end of the scale this means more and more women in their fifties and early sixties are out working while also looking after aging parents - bringing them to hospital appointments, making sure they're not alone after medical treatments that have strong side effects, choosing nursing homes etc etc etc.

The days are long gone when many middle aged women were empty nesters with lots of time on their hands. Yet there is nothing in place for those who need a bit of flexibility to care for the need of their elderly parents.

I see so many colleagues having to use annual leave every time they need to meet with a social worker, bring a parent for hospital treatment, check out care homes and so on.

AIBU to think that middle aged workers trying to juggle work and caring for ill or incapacitated parents should have entitlement to some kind of special time allowance for certain circumstances.

My friend, who has worked full time for thirty eight years and has no children so has never taken any kind of maternity leave, now finds that while trying to help take care of her elderly father she is entitled to nothing and her annual leave is being eaten into.

She can't help feeling bitter and I don't blame her.

gillybob Sat 15-Feb-20 09:49:04

Oh I know it’s fine if you work in the public sector as it’s tax payers money anyway. Perhaps even a large organisation has the money but don’t forget we small businesses get ZERO help these days and are obliged to follow every drop of legislation as though we were multi million £ empires.

Razzy Sat 15-Feb-20 09:50:29

I believe the only way it will change is if men pick up an equal amount of caring responsibilities. As women worked more and men have done a little more of the nursery/ school runs things have changed there. Big companies have family flexible policies however many only offer unpaid leave. When my mum was ill I told the hospital that my mum lived on her own with no help and said I couldn’t help due work and child. They sorted out lots of support. If I had said I could go in every day it wouldn’t have been available. Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot!

Beswitched Sat 15-Feb-20 09:54:49

That's my original point Gilkybob. Government has introduced various supports to enable young mothers to remain in the workplace, but are ignoring the needs of older women in the workplace
There needs to be fairness and balance not a cynical approach based on people's use to the economy.

MissAdventure Sat 15-Feb-20 10:02:52

Perhaps if companies included very clear descriptions of their policies on elder care, even if it is just flexibility in hours, if that is all they can manage.

It would give people the option of knowing whether to apply for jobs, at least.

gillybob Sat 15-Feb-20 10:09:39

The thing is MissA is that none of us knows what lies ahead. At 30 I never envisaged the life I have now .

MissAdventure Sat 15-Feb-20 10:41:21

Oh I know that myself, gilly.

If someone's circumstances change to such a huge extent though, or they can see them heading that way, then they could leave a job with rigidly enforced policies, and look for something more flexible.

gillybob Sat 15-Feb-20 10:42:49

If only ...... sigh ?

MissAdventure Sat 15-Feb-20 10:46:49

Chin up. We're in it together. Around the same age. Both working ourselves into a frazzle with no reprieve in sight.

What's not to like? smile

Fiachna50 Sat 15-Feb-20 10:55:23

I would totally support any help for older carers. Having been carers ourselves, we were left to it, diddly squat help from anyone inc other family members except one. My husband at one point used up all his compassionate leave and annual leave. Nobody cared, nobody helped and I have never felt so isolated. Yes, there should be support. Sorry, but at times it really was bad and the minute you say to medical staff I can warned, you are left with the lot. Don't get me wrong, the people I cared for, would do it again as they would have had nobody. I also had children at the time to consider. Nobody ever thinks carers need a life too, or, at least a little bit of time out to recharge your batteries so that you can continue to care for the person. Yes, if Im honest, Im quite bitter about the situation we were left in. Not about who we looked after.

Fiachna50 Sat 15-Feb-20 10:57:47

Meant to add we were still both working at the time too as we had a house , bills etc. I had to go part- time which was a drop in our income and don't start me on Carers Allowance.

Charleygirl5 Sat 15-Feb-20 11:12:06

My parents were terminally ill around the same time- I was in my 30's, they lived in Scotland I was married and lived in London. I worked for 10 days and had 4 off, Friday -Monday so every second weekend for 3 months I travelled by train to Scotland.

I then had to take 3 months unpaid leave to sort out funerals, sell the house etc. Very stressful also with my boss getting in touch wondering when I was returning to work. I was in no fit state physically or mentally.

Mimidl Sat 15-Feb-20 14:57:25

I'm lucky as my parents are in their 70's and my dad still works. My mum has cancer but is bearing up well and not changing her routine at all. My brother lives with them and doesn't work, so can take her to any hospital appointments she has.
My mother-in-law is unwell and since my FIL died the responsibility of taking her to hospital appointments/shopping/the bank, anywhere in fact has fallen on my DH and I's shoulders.
Luckily, we are both able to work part time so we work her appointments between us.
I know that not everyone is in our position, but I have to say my employers are great with issues regarding families. They're a family firm and are wonderful to work for

Nannarose Sat 15-Feb-20 15:46:50

I know that some employers offer 5 days 'carers' leave' as I worked in a multi-disciplinary team where some had it (depending on their employer) and some (me) didn't.
I finally cut my working hours to care for my parents. I wasn't exactly bitter, but I did think that at all points I (& DH) had borne the burden of care ourselves, as I had worked casually or part-time whilst my children were small, as their dad worked very long and unpredictable hours.

We were fortunate in having a good income, and fairly modest tastes, so my earnings weren't an issue. I know that my own kids won't be able to do the same, so my savings will pay for care.

And I am very sympathetic to those employers who struggle to help carers. We sometimes got in the mad situation where, as I was the 'at home mum', my DH would cover the work of colleagues whose own partners refused to take time off work for sick children. I was so cross with one of them that at a 'do' I told him that I was functioning as his wife. He went to work without thinking about his kids, his wife took time off to look after them, my DH covered her work during his days off, and could do so because I took up the slack. He spluttered that I didn't have a job anyway, and I said there was one waiting for me when I could go back to it.

I too felt, once I went back to work, that I covered for colleagues taking time off 'because my children are older now'. However, I tried to do it with good grace, knowing that I have been fortunate.

Witzend Thu 20-Feb-20 09:38:10

For well over 15 years I was looking after either a parent or an in law with dementia, and there was a childless aunt of dh needing time, too. However I was only working part time so it was manageable. Dh was unable to do much at all since he was still working very long hours and was frequently away for work, too.

I do often wonder how on earth I’d have managed if grandchild-care had been needed, too, but the first Gdc didn’t arrive until I was 67, just before the last of the parents died.
There is absolutely no way I’d be able to do both now, even though I’m no,longer working.

What with so many women having babies that much later - a dd recently had no.3 at nearly 43 - and several of her friends are similar, and given that so many of them need to work more or less full time, too, I don’t know what the answer is - that is if people needing care can’t afford to pay for it, or are unwilling to do so even if they are well able to pay (dh’s aunt was one such), or refuse the care arranged for them because ‘My daughter will do it’ - (it’s nearly always the daughter, isn’t it?).
I know from masses of communication with other carers that this is very common, especially if any level of dementia is involved.

Doodledog Thu 20-Feb-20 10:57:41

I think that situations like this will never be sorted out until people stop looking for ways that other people have what seem to be advantages over them.

I'm not at the 'caring for parents' stage (yet), but I well remember the bitterness expressed by some colleagues when parents wanted an hour or two off to see a nativity play, or to take leave in the school holidays (instead of a week or two either side when things were cheaper and less fraught for non-parent). It seemed like people were constantly looking for ways to level a playing field that was, in fact, stacked against those with children.

Private and public sector roles both have swings and roundabouts, and many people only see the 'other side' getting things that they don't, and so on. Interestingly, there is a lot of complaining about others not pulling their weight at work, when everyone posting on here is either retired or has time at their own workplace to post on here grin.

If, instead of looking at what other people seem to get, we look for ways to make things easier for everyone, life would be so much better all round. Everyone should be able to get time off for emergency care when needed. I thought that this was already in place?

supergabs1960 Thu 20-Feb-20 13:10:56

I feel very lucky that my employer allows 15 hours paid carer's leave a year to cover any aspect of care. I use mine for taking MIL to hospital appointments. I am also allowed to work from home before or after the appointment if it is at an inconvenient time of day so I don't need to travel to the office and back more than once.

We also get 15 hours per year paid time to do voluntary work.

Beswitched Thu 20-Feb-20 13:44:50

I don't think anyone's suggesting that parents be given less flexibility Doodledog. We're just saying that while policy makers have woken up to the fact that the increased number of young mothers remaining in the workplace needs to be addressed through accommodations such as decent maternity leave, parental leave etc, they seem to be ignoring the corresponding increase in older women trying to balance work and care of elderly parents.

Galaxy Thu 20-Feb-20 13:47:21

Why is it down to women, is an important question to ask.

Beswitched Thu 20-Feb-20 13:53:18

It's not necessarily emergency care that's needed but flexibility to bring parents to appointments, meet with consultants or social workers, visit them in hospital during the day if it's needed etc etc etc

Maybe you have to be in the situation to realise how difficult and grinding it can be.