Letter: Legacies at risk: the cost of care for the elderly and children's duty to their parents

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The Independent Online
Sir: Judy Jones, although highlighting a situation of care of the elderly in the Nineties, fails to point out another reason why this situation has arisen apart from the fact that people are living longer.

Years ago it was the duty of the children to support their parents in their old age, either by visiting them in their own home or, more commonly, by letting them live with them as part of an enlarged family (still a feature of Asian society). After their deaths they inherited the house and its contents.

Today the emphasis is on a husband and wife both working. Although parents may be cared for in their own homes, very few now live with their children. Families want to work to pay the mortgage and enjoy a good style of living; they do not want to be burdened by an aged person living with them. Therefore when a mother or father does go into a private nursing home the children are reluctant to pay the pounds 200/ pounds 300 per week out of their hard-earned cash, so the house has to be sold to pay for their keep. This situation is not likely to change, despite Judy Jones's comments, as by and large children do not want parents living with them.

One should ask whether children can expect any claim on the family home if they have not taken on any of the responsibility of looking after their parents during their old age.

Yours sincerely,

R. COLLINS

Halesowen, West Midlands

5 October

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