Parent care ‘difficult, complex and emotional’ for siblings

Minding elderly parents leaves some siblings isolated and frustrated, report finds

The report found carers can look after loved ones for up to 17 hours a day and the commitment involved can leave to social isolation. Photograph:  John Stillwell/PA

The report found carers can look after loved ones for up to 17 hours a day and the commitment involved can leave to social isolation. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

 

The assumption that extended families in rural areas will always be there to help out no longer applies, a new report has suggested.

A study into family carers in north Leitrim found many are struggling on their own to cope and suffer social isolation as a result.

Many primary carers struggle to get the support of their siblings to help with an elderly parent.

Either siblings are either away from home or others are too busy because the world of work makes for so many extra commitments.

The report entitled Who Cares? Barriers to a Good Quality of Life for Family Carers in north Leitrim was commissioned by 24/7 Carers, a group set up in 2013.

The report looked into the experiences of 12 carers in the area. It found five of them had reached breaking point and could not continue in the long term looking after their relative.

Residential care

For some it was a temporary situation, but for others the end result was that the person they looked after went into full-time residential care.

Report author Dr Deirdre Byrne found that dealing with siblings over carer issues can be “difficult, complex and emotional”.

The report concluded: “As parents age and move closer to dying, family members will handle it in different ways.

“It can be very challenging for the person who is providing the majority of the care for the parent, to deal with their own emotions and have sympathy for their siblings who are also going through a major emotional time.”

The unwillingness of siblings to help out causes “resentment, frustration and considerable negativity”, the report states.

Time-consuming commitment

One explained: “I asked my brother would he come over and mind but I knew what the answer would be. ‘I’ve used up all my holidays already.’”

The report found that carers can look after loved ones for up to 17 hours a day and the time-consuming nature of the commitment involved can leave to social isolation.

One female carer noted that friends did not bother with her anymore: “If you are never available then they’ll stop asking and eventually they stop calling altogether.”

The report noted that the problems for carers were not exclusive to north Leitrim, but poor public transport links in the area and poor broadband compound the sense of isolation that carers feel elsewhere.

Among the report’s recommendations are that the motorised transport grant and mobility allowance scheme should be widened to include family care scenarios and the national broadband plan should be delivered to rural north Leitrim.