OK, I haven't become the full time carer that some people are but the events of the last few days have given me a glimpse of how things might develop over the coming months and years.
A week last Sunday was the last day of paternity leave – we had a baby girl. Whilst driving to Oxford to see my sister-in-law's baby – a boy who had been born that day (yes, our family is populating the world at speed :-))- I received a call from my brother informing me that my mother had suffered a mild stroke.
I was surprised at how upset I got on hearing this – despite the fact I was told mum got to hospital quickly and was OK. She has since been making a good recovery and is now back at home.
However, she was in hospital for a week which meant I stayed with my father and took him to hospital in the evening. I work away from home and our office is close to where my mum and dad live so helping out was easy to do.
My mum is in her late 70s and my father in his early 80s – they had us two boys late in their life (I'm in my late 30s and brother early 40s).
Meanwhile, my wife is at home with our three young children (all
under 5). She is recovering from a cesarean and there is no kitchen as
building works that should have finished three weeks ago are still
ongoing. The kitchen will be finished this week, apparently.
This whole situation got me thinking that for people like me and my brother – who have young families and older parents – there will be this dual caring role which will put a whole range of emotional, physical and logistical pressures on us as we look after young children and elderly parents.
I'm not sure to what extent people are having children later but from my experience friends and family seem to be starting families well into their 30s. If they have older parents then they will experience this dual care challenge.
This in turn will impact on their work and if significant numbers of people are doing this then it would seem there will be quite a challenge for employers and employees in managing work patterns to accommodate caring duties.
I know this is nothing new and the UK government has shaped employment legislation to enable employees to work more flexibly but with an ageing population and people starting families later this could well become more of an issue for employers.