How did we get here

How did we get here ? What have we sacrificed to live in a society that needs government support to care for family members ? Has our craving for the right to work,own our own home , have a car be single parents, two career parents. Has these so called rights led us here ? Some would say that caring for family is the duty of the family ,not that they should be paid, or compensated for doing so?
I care fort an 86 year old , with severe Alzheimers, mobility and continence problems. I have three chronic illnesses myself and cannot work.
Yet I am alone, the government did not put me here, and the family I have left won’t help. I do not like, in fact hate the situation I am in. So I guess my point is should we, no the government, be working to encourage a return to family unity, to lowering our expectation to have a career?
I am sure there was a time , before the welfare state that family would have cared for each other without hesitation as there was no alternative, yes life was bad for some but it still is.
I didn’t know where else to post so if someone does let me know.


Share and Learn is a great way in order to meet people and learn new skills as well. Best wishes. Alternatively you can call up a bunch of local community colleges in addition to see what they have on offer too. Otherwise perhaps try to find out about fun evening classes and so on. Email a few different adult education colleges in preparation to ask them all about their enrolment process.

You can do this bit in the morning. It is always nice to acquire new interesting skills in question here. Take a good and careful look at their website. Often information will be provided on there. Make some brief summary notes on your options. Be prepared. Trust your gut instinct however. Read the course brochure given. Get a hold of leaflets if possible. Then decide.

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I suppose it depends if you want to live in a society where some people are effectively enslaved. Left to sink or swim without support, forced to care and to do tasks for which they are unsuited (in some cases), forced to subjugate their own lives and ambitions, all for the needs of another. No recognition, no help, nothing.

The suicide and murder rate would skyrocket.

I’ve been a carer for most of my life. It started when I was two, when my sister was born. Now I’m not saying I did a lot of caring at that age, but I would fetch things for Mum - nappies, cleaning materials, etc., when my sister had an accident or whatever. It often starts small, in a way that you don’t really notice. The welfare state was in full swing then, but there was no help for Mum other than family. The only other choice was to put my sister in a hospital and to forget about her. Mum refused to do that. Prior to the “welfare state”, my sister would have been dumped in a “lunatic asylum” and left to rot. Same old, same old…The wider family ignored our situation because they didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to change their lives. They had that choice, and it was the choice most people made. Their choice would have been “asylum/hospital.”

For Mum and Dad, they found a way. Mum packed in work. Dad worked all hours he could because he was not in a well-paid job. One way or another, I’ve been a carer ever since then. Not just for my sister - I’m a serial carer, a multiple carer and a “sandwich” carer - caring for people across generations. I’ve had very little help from the government in that time. There’s no family left to help. Who else do I get help from? If the government/council won’t help, there’s no one left.

If we agree with the concept of a National Health Service that looks after our health from cradle to grave, then we also must agree that supporting families to care comes as a part of that. The idea should be to support family members to care - not to force them - so that their health and wellbeing is supported, and they have the same opportunities as everyone else. In the world you described, and I know that there are those who support the idea, I would never have met my wife, let alone married her. I’d be a nasty, embittered old man by now. Or quite possibly dead. No thanks.


Simon, what a horrible world you have described.
It should be the job of the government elected by the people, to support those people who need help, and that includes carers.
Unfortunately, all things are not equal in our society, and whilst those with a lot of money can buy the best care and support possible, most ordinary (let alone poor and vulnerable) people, cannot afford to do this and deserve all the help they can get.

Why is our work not of equal value to that provided by a non family member???
That is the question the government should be asked. It shouldn’t depend on our sex, our work elsewhere, if we do the work, we deserve equal pay.
I have been the family “sacrificial lamb” because I lived nearest my disabled mum. My father and my brothers continued with their lives and left their “problem” for me to deal with. I did not ask to have an unqualified midwife during labour which left my son brain damaged. I have saved the country a fortune, but not one day child free for 16 years damaged my health forever. His care costs the LA a lot of money, often the agency charge for over £200 worth of care they don’t provide, so why can’t I be paid when I care for him? He can’t enjoy his only hobby without me. The LA say the agency can support him to manage a 100 year old steam engine, but none of them have the experience needed!


I am an embittered old man pal. My fasmily dumped me as soon as they could and now expect me to do the caring , which I am doing because I am better than any of them.

Forced to subjugate?

I think this is what I was trying to say, that these family members like my own who choose not to help could/should be strongly encouraged to do so. By allowing them not to are we not creating a society nobody wants? Should the welfare state carry people who ignore their duty as family members because that is what we’re asking for. Is the fact that they pay tax/ni enough to excuse them from getting their hands dirty?
In Spain the state hospitals expect families to come and care for relatives in hospital, feed them, help clean them etc etc. Things we have chosen to burden the NHS with.

But is it an elected governments job to provide support so that people who do not choose to care for their own families can choose not to.?
Has the welfare state eroded family responsibility, has it replaced caring for loved ones?

Thank you , I will indeed.

I don’t think the welfare state has eroded individual or family responsibility.
People do their best and thankfully have the right to make choices.
The state provides a safety net - as it should.
You do not sound very happy with your situation, perhaps you should call on the state that you appear to be so critical of, to help you….
Get some respite; advice; support……
You might find it helps. I hope so.

The NHS relies a lot on families visiting: it’s why the standards of care dropped dramatically during Covid lockdowns. Not only were they overwhelmed by sheer numbers, the care provided by volunteers and family was removed.

To be clear: just because someone is a family member does not mean they have any kind of duty. They may feel that they do. Others may feel that they do. But I can recall people I’ve known who felt that they had a duty to care for a relative who’d abused them physically for years. You might imagine the resentment they felt, or perhaps even the power of a little threat of payback…either way - very not healthy for anyone. The relatives I mentioned were people I had little or no contact with: you can’t choose your relatives, but I certainly would not have chosen them as friends - so I was happy with the arrangement, frankly, even as a teenager.

The welfare state was created to support those who could not get support from elsewhere - for whatever reason.

You asked about “forced to subjugate their own lives and ambitions” - I’ll just say that the expectations of my wife’s parents were that she would continue to care for her mother after her father was gone, and this was a plan they had in mind from before we met. We encountered huge resistance to the idea of us getting together. My total lack of suitability (money) was a deciding factor, to be sure, but my presence also knocked their plans out of kilter. My wife chose to share her life with me. Others aren’t allowed to have that choice. Okay, so we didn’t escape caring - our sons both need care, and now so does my wife. But that was a life we chose. Nobody else chose for us. And I was still able to pursue a career, albeit in a very different area of work than I started in. But that was all to the good, and I wouldn’t change one thing. I chose my life, insofar as anyone can in my circumstances. But no one should be forced to care.


I totally agree with Charles.
Simon, I saw your post on the roll call stream.
You have overcome a lot of adversity.
Be kind to yourself and accept any help that comes your way.
Whatever your views, you will find lively debate here, but ultimately support.


I agree with Charles and Jane.

No easy answers but if you can get any help then please accept it. I agree you sound very unhappy and you have a right to a life and happiness too. No one can or should be forced to care. Many of us will do our best often in difficult circumstances for a relative who is not easy to care for. Every case is individual and it depends on so many things - many with full time jobs would struggle to juggle caring with their lives. Yet the financial implications of giving up work are huge.

Some people don’t have any relatives at all. Some have relatives living elsewhere, maybe on the other side of the world. Others do have relatives living nearby who ignore them or even steal from them! When mum was dying, they became more interested thinking they would inherit something. They didn’t, for good reason and my will now says even if they are my last surviving relative they will not get it! I’m the only UK relative now, I wasn’t invited to a christening or wedding after all I’d done to help them, despite being I’ll myself at the time. This is why society has provision for anyone old, unwell or disabled to have appropriate support.

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Simon, sending a lot of empathy your way. There’s a lot of wisdom and experience in the replies which resonated strongly with me.

Having a sense of agency - intentionally making my own choices about my life (head-heart-gut aligned), feeling that I have control over my actions and related consequences, is what’s kept me sane - when I was working and when I chose to resign & look after my parents.
To some my actions ‘were assumed’ and what is expected of a Chinese ‘dutiful daughter’. At the same time, those same people, couldn’t get their heads around or reconcile why I’d give up a very lucrative job abroad, to help Mum look after Dad, and then stay 24/7 with Mum after Dad passed. Regardless of what others think, I’m very clear on my ‘Why’ – a few very important reasons, which I’m very zen about…not all the time might I add, but journaling, taking walks and talking with others helps me slowly re-anchor my wandering brain! (BTW Figuring that out; what helps recentre me, was a journey in itself!)

Everyone has their own motives, story, and unique situation. I try to meet & support others wherever they are at. However, I’ve also set several boundaries with the most disruptive people e.g., those so-called ‘well-intentioned’ relatives who (especially in Asian culture) are meant to be listened to & respected i.e., who think that I should do what they say! Mum handles those ‘update’ calls and I avoid lectures;-) I think they still can’t figure me out – if I’m so dutiful in my care of Mum, why don’t I kowtow (obey) them?? (Trying to explain it iteratively to them, has led me to stop & not waste my very precious time & energy on them now)

You’ve reached out on the forum, for support & to vent but may I suggest that perhaps, you’re also wanting to explore what you could do for yourself?? Something to learn or grow into or just different from what you’re experiencing right now, especially when you can’t work??
Back in 2015, I did this free course which really helped – I see it’s not running now but perhaps something else on the website that could interest you? Aside from being free, its online study at your own pace.

Or the Open Uni Free courses??

I hope this offers some food for thought and support. Best wishes, empathy & prayers.