Guilt, family tensions, and a lack of acceptance by parents, means the role of making decisions on behalf of an elderly parent is an uncomfortable one for many. As part of the creation of engagewithyou.com, we surveyed 1000 British 45-60 year olds to find out what the biggest issues are for them*.
Just 41 percent of those we spoke to said they were comfortable making decisions on behalf of an ageing parent. Those 50 and under find it hardest – 22 percent of them stating they feel ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘very uncomfortable’ with the decision-making process.
sole child, sole responsibility
Being the only child of elderly parents can be a double edged sword. Whilst this group are most comfortable with decision making on their parents’ behalf (and their parents are the most prepared to accept decisions made for them), only children scored highest for feeling guilty that they cannot do more to help.
Parental lack of acceptance of decisions made by others for them is an issue for many, being the second main reason why respondents across the whole survey said they feel uncomfortable with the process. The parents of those aged 50 and under scored highest for this.
Feelings of discomfort as familiar parent/child roles start to reverse is a recurring theme for those in this situation. As is family conflict. One in five respondents claimed that making decisions for a parent caused tension or disagreement between family members, and nine per cent feel they don’t have enough information to make these important decisions.
help and advice
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, you may be able to offer your own advice or insight via our discussion forums. Alternatively, if you are seeking help, information or signposts, you may wish to take a look at our expert help pages, or in the relevant discussion forum.
* Independent research conducted among 1,000 UK adults aged 45-60 December 2011.