The research by engagewithyou.com, the social network for the over 40s, polled 1000 people aged between 40-65 and found that people earning less than £20,000 a year (30%) are five times more likely to provide regular, routine support for their elderly parents than those earning more than £100,000 a year (6%).
With the social care system facing crisis, care for the elderly is falling onto the shoulders of the elderly’s adult children to take action and provide support. engagewithyou.com found that 71% of people aged 40-65 say they are providing practical, routine help to their elderly parents with one in four taking on a carer role.
The new data also shatters any notion that good care provision is just an affordability issue. When asked to describe their relationship with their elderly parents, it was people on the lowest incomes that provide active support and financial help, whereas those on top incomes are more likely to be disengaged or have a ‘calendarised’ relationship – seeing elderly relatives only for major events, such as birthdays or Christmas.
When it comes to providing practical help to their elderly relatives, again it is those on the lowest income that are most likely to do a wide range of tasks - from cleaning and doing odd-jobs around the house, to helping with finances and making sure their parents are stocked up on groceries.
Wealthy people are as likely to speak to their elderly parents on the phone (63% of those earning more than £50,000 compared to a UK average of 59%), but when it comes to putting time in, they are the least engaged.
Karl Elliott, Director at engagewithyou.com said: “When it comes to putting time in to provide regular care and support, it is those on the lowest incomes that do more for their parents. Wealthier people may live further away from their parents, but there are probably other factors also at play. The time pressure involved in providing such support is currently on the low earners – and these are also the people that most fear losing their job for taking time off work to help their elderly parents.”
“For too long the debate around care has focused on care homes. The reality is that the majority of people across all incomes would not consider the care home option for their elderly parents. Meanwhile, there is a growing care class - an army of unrecognised and unsupported family carers who are juggling the demands of providing levels of care and support to parents alongside other life pressures of work and their own children.”