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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 21 March, 2019

Brendan Courtney said it's 'selfish' that older people expect their kids to look after them

“Not every family has an amazing, successful gay son to step in.”

000e2856-800 Source: RTÉ

AHEAD OF THE release of Brendan Courtney’s new factual TV show We Need to Talk About Mam,  the 45-year-old presenter and designer spoke to the RTÉ Guide about how his generation’s coping with their ageing relatives and how younger generations should be preparing for the future. 

Brendan previously documented the difficult decisions his family faced when his father suffered a stroke, in a TV show called We Need to Talk About Dad. Brendan’s father Frank passed away last year, a few months after the documentary aired. 

We Need to Talk About Dad highlighted the flaws in the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme and focused on how the scheme does not support home care, a solution which many people find more desirable than relying on nursing homes. 

0_I181029_150916_1544258oTextTRMRMMGLPICT000166924549o Source: RTÉ

Referring to the generation of his parents, Courtney said, “In one way, that generation’s lack of planning for old age, leaving it to your kids, is a bit selfish. Especially for someone like my sisters, who have children, they just wouldn’t have the time if anything happened.” 

Courtney said that his own parents were lucky enough to buy their own house, pay off their mortgage thanks to their good jobs and they had private pensions too. However, he told the RTÉ Guide that “Even in that position, my mother is trapped.” Imagine what things are like for families where both spouses were not working, who lived in rented accommodation and relied on all of their income to raise their children. 

Courtney acknowledged that few families were fortunate enough to have a financial situation that ensured they’d be looked after properly for their entire lives. 

I suppose we’re a traditionally poor country, only wealthy in the last 20 years or whatever. Our parents lunged from birthday to birthday, Christmas to Christmas, just trying to get us out the door, to survive. They didn’t plan child-bearing, so why would they plan old-age? God looked after everything. 

Luckily, Brendan’s parents had kids who could look after them. But what happens to those who don’t have children, or those whose children are unable to support them? Brendan said that they need to prepare themselves for whatever the future has in store for them:

Not every family has an amazing, successful gay son to step in. Older people need to be told “Sorry, but it’s your life, you need to plan for this.” Especially when they’re not sick and have all their faculties. 

Again, how can people on low incomes be expected to do this? Courtney thinks that his generation will have a better handle on the situation, even if the resources are still poor by the time it rolls around. 

My generation, in my mid-40s, is starting to think differently. We realise we’re all living longer, healthier lives, but the financial back-up isn’t there. Neither is the housing. It’s an interesting point for my generation; looking ahead but with little planning done so far.

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Kelly Earley

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