British families admit they feel burdened by older relatives, including at Christmas, research has revealed. Despite 87% of people feeling it is the responsibility of family to look after older relatives, worries about the financial burden (19%), being too busy (45%) and living too far away (36%) mean that families can’t take the strain.
In fact, almost half of those surveyed (47%) are dreading the day their grandparents or parents need to be cared for.
A reluctance to spend time with older relatives was shown to be particularly poignant at Christmas, with 23% of people saying they have older relatives who are likely to spend Christmas alone.
However, only 32% of people plan to invite them over for Christmas, with the greatest reason for not inviting older relatives due to concerns about frailty (18%).
A problem not confined to Christmas, the survey of 2,000 adults, conducted by Friends of the Elderly, found that while 31% would be happy to check in on ageing family members and visit regularly, they wouldn’t want them to move in with them.
Richard Furze, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly, said:
‘‘We can all make a special effort at Christmas and it will make such a difference, not just with our relatives but with older people in our communities.
‘‘Our Christmas campaign ‘Friends Open Doors‘ is focused on encouraging people to show a simple gesture to older people, such as simply checking in on an older neighbour regularly, popping a card through their door or having a chat with an older person at the shops.
This can be enjoyable for both young and older people, only takes a moment and can make a real difference.
‘‘Our campaign involves inviting isolated people in the community to join us for a festive lunch and inviting people to come and help decorate our homes- we are very encouraged by the wonderful response which confirms our survey findings that although people are concerned about making a big commitment, 64% of people are willing to open their doors to take a first step.”
This is echoed in the survey results, which show that 47% of people feel local communities should take more responsibility for looking after older people.
Almost half of those polled believe people in the UK should have a legal responsibility for looking after their parents in older age, as they are in France, while 27% of people think it is down to the Government to take care of the elderly.
The survey also revealed the issues around visiting older relatives, with almost two thirds admitting they struggle to visit them at all, and one in five seeing them only a couple of times a year at most.
Sadly, more than a quarter say an older relative has asked them to visit more often because they are lonely.
“If you live far away or can’t afford to travel to see an older relative regularly, a phone call can really make the difference for those who live on their own and can’t get out as much as they would like.”