Why you should talk to your parents about their future care needs

Comedian and actor Jean Kittson is one of the 2.65 million people in Australia who play an essential role as carers.

The 68-year-old supports her parents, Elaine and Roy, who still live at home.

“They're still living independently,” Jean told Woman’s Day. “Mum’s 99 this year and Dad’s 96, and I’m about to get some more support. They have a great team around them.”

She has written a guide We Need to Talk About Mum & Dad: A practical guide to parenting our ageing parents, published by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Accept the support available

One major barrier that prevents people from accessing support is that they may not realise they are carers.

Jean said it common when someone is caring for their partner, especially if they’re giving each other mutual support, that they do not see themselves as carers.

“My mother has been legally blind for about 20 years with macular disease, so Dad would probably identify as her carer for many years, making the tea, cooking and things like that,” she said.

“But in another way, my mother cares for my father by keeping him on track, getting him out of bed and making him have a shower. So, it can be mutual, and people don’t identify.

“They may not want to say, ‘I’m someone’s carer.’ [They’ll say] ‘I’m just their partner and I’m doing what I can to make their life as good as it can possibly be.

“Sometimes you need to say, ‘Well, actually, I do have a caring role. And I can get a lot of support’. Because once you actually understand what your role is, there is a lot of support for you.”

Talk to your parents about future needs regularly

It is not wrong to ask for help and it is recommended that the siblings speak regularly to their ageing parents.

“It’s actually opening up a really healthy and joyous conversation about making sure that our elders’ wishes are heard,” said Jean.

“And it’s not just one conversation about what you want and how you see your life. It’s many conversations so everyone’s on the same page.”

Jean said by talking to them, you will have a better idea of when to step in, but also when it is not necessary.

“It will actually give them more control over their lives and more independence for longer rather than less,” she said.

Solid advice.

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Antonia Norris

Researcher and Contributor

Antonia has led the operations and growth of the agedcare101.com.au and villages.com.au within the DCM Group in Australia and New Zealand for several years. This has included the research and creation agedcare101 in 2016, the creation of the DCM Institute and Te Ara Institute, the joint contribution of Care & Living with Mercer (CaLM) and the TV series, The Best 30 Years, screened on NINE nationally.

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Journalist

Journalist

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.