At a time when families across the UK are packing their holiday suitcases, new research from Anchor has revealed that a third of Brits feel guilty about their holidays when faced with leaving an older relative behind. 

And it’s women’s conscience that proved stronger than men’s with 42% of women saying they feel guilty about heading off without older family members. 

But feeling most guilty about taking a summer break are younger people - with over half (54%) of those under 35 feeling bad about leaving older relatives at home. 

The findings tie in with previous research by Anchor, which showed Brits to have a disappointingly pessimistic outlook when it comes to retirement. Seventy-three per cent of people said they expected not to have a good quality of life in their 70s, dropping to just 13% when thinking about their 80s. 

And younger people’s perception of retirement doesn’t reflect the priorities of retirees – younger people associated retirement with grandchildren (69%) and knitting (26%). A stark contrast to older people who most associated it with travel (67%) and learning something brand new (47%).  

Anchor’s Head of Care, Rob Martin, says: “Retirement is an opportunity for people to enjoy later life, get involved in activities and social events which give them the chance to meet new people and try new things. There is no need for anyone to feel guilty about going on holiday, particularly when older relatives are safe and well looked after, as our research shows they are more interested in travelling themselves than staying in and knitting.”

To ease the feelings of guilt, Rob has devised some thoughts for those planning a holiday this summer and are worried about older relatives or those living with dementia.

  1. Retirement is for living. There are now 11.6 million people over the age of 65 in the UK and we’re surrounded by shining examples of those living life to its fullest in older age. It’s often a time of great happiness so it’s time to dispel the myths of older age. Ensure your relatives are in good care and don't feel guilty.
  2. Think ahead. Remember that it’s likely your relatives wouldn’t want you to feel guilty and are happy to see you enjoy yourself. If you’re going away without an older relative, embrace your time away but remember to show older relatives were in your thoughts - bring back a souvenir, send a postcard, or share your holiday snaps with them when you’re home
  3. Traveling with older people. If you're worried about older relatives with dementia or health issues. With careful planning, it’s possible to have a stress free holiday and take family members with you:
    - Best mode of travel - do you have to fly or are there alternatives that could reduce anxiety? Ensure comfort by thinking about extra leg room or sitting near to the toilets.
    - Call ahead - most airports, train and coach stations can provide wheelchair access and restaurants can consider dietary requirements.
    - Extra time - Schedule in extra time for activities and account for breaks. Make the most out of what might be a slower pace than usual and fall into step.
    - Packing the essentials - Allow some extra space for medication and double check you have everything before you head off. No matter what the weather, layers of clothing are important too.
    - Consider medical needs – If your loved one lives with dementia for example, take something familiar to them: something that they can hold, touch and smell during the trip which could provide comfort in a disorientating environment.
  4. Respite care. If you usually play a big part in looking after an older relative with health issues and are going on holiday, again, don’t worry. There are lots of great options for respite care that offer short-term stays for older people requiring temporary care and support. Choose the perfect respite care together – taking advantage of activities and social events which give you the chance to meet new people and trying new things. 

For more help and support, specifically when bringing older relatives living with dementia on holiday, please visit our pages on Anchor Inspires.

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