Irish presenter Brendan Courtney says elderly parents who expect kids to look after them are 'a bit selfish'
Entertainment

Irish presenter Brendan Courtney says elderly parents who expect kids to look after them are 'a bit selfish'

RTÉ presenter Brendan Courtney has said it is selfish for parents to expect their children to take care of them when they are older.

Last year, the 45-year-old broadcaster's documentary 'We Need To Talk About Dad' struck a chord with the public with its focus on Courtney's struggles organising care for his father, who was unable to look after himself following a stroke.

Speaking to RTÉ Guide ahead of his follow-up show 'We Need To Talk About Mam', Courtney said his father's story "touched a lot of hearts" of people in similar situations.

"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," he said.

"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".

Advertisement

He added: "Family members are forced into being carers out of obligation, rather than desire. If there was a bit more planning, both parents and children might have a better life".

Courtney's latest project features his elderly mother Nuala, and the presenter admitted he found it even harder to film than his father's documentary.

He said: "We’re looking at her third stage of life, you might say. She’s found herself a single woman in her 70s, which is a scary place to be. We’re supportive but I can understand her fear.

"While my parents bought their own house, paid off their mortgage, had good jobs and private pensions- even in that position, my mother is trapped.

"My mam is my friend now, in my adulthood, a strong and determined woman. But it was challenging for me, to be honest."

The Tallaght native said the dilemma facing many children of elderly parents if not only a generational issue, but a housing problem too.

Advertisement

"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," he added.

"But 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."

We Need To Talk About Mam airs on Monday November 5 at 9.35pm on RTÉ 1