You’ve heard of the bank of mum and dad - but should there be a board of mum and dad when parents get older?

PUBLISHED: 18:04 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:04 17 May 2018

Annabel James Picture:

Annabel James Picture:

Creating a board of mum and dad could help spread the caring load across families

The term Golden Skirt caught my eye recently, a phrase coined by the Norwegians with reference to the number of women who sit on company boards there. It was a response to a focus on gender equality and women in senior positions. The more board roles a woman has, the more gilded the skirt.

It’s a weirdly lovely expression. I’m no great skirt wearer, but I love the idea of sweeping around in a swirl of gold; maybe it would be a finely tailored pencil skirt, with burnished kitten heels, or a beautiful pale gold suit. Of course, it’s a state of mind and the gender pay gap and the debate about women in senior positions sadly won’t be solved by dishing out golden skirts. But it set me thinking about how informal unpaid “family” care is still so very under-valued. And the worst of it is that this under-valuing happens within families.

I have banged on before about how daughters are perceived to be the best insurance policy for their elderly parents, and that sons, fathers and brothers remain often a somewhat under-used resource on the care front. This is a source of irritation and family upset for so many. I am often asked how to minimise family conflict around making decisions about caring for elderly parents.

The best advice I have been given is to set the family up as a “Company of Mum and Dad.” Operate like a board with everyone playing to their strengths; have an agenda and meet regularly (skype a good option); perhaps a sibling living overseas can take on the finances, another with a busy job could take on respite care.

It may not take all the angst out of difficult decisions, but joining the board of Mum and Dad Co. might spread the load. It will also mean you can add a golden skirt to your wardrobe.

For more information and advice on caring for elderly parents visit

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