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Exclusive: Lorraine Kelly reveals 'worrying time' amid mum's hospitalisation

Lorraine's mum Anne had issues with her kidneys

lorraine kelly mum
21 February 2023
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When my mum fell ill and was admitted to hospital last year, I realised it was time for us to have a conversation about the future.

She had been experiencing symptoms such as swollen legs for a while and then suddenly took a turn for the worse. 

It was a worrying time for the whole family, and she was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a condition that stops the kidneys functioning properly.

The doctors and nurses could not have been kinder, but Mum just wanted to get home. And once she did, she improved dramatically – mentally, as well as physically.

Until she became ill, Mum was a very active and independent 80-year-old who loved going to her book club and exercise classes and was learning German, so it was hard for her to be on strong medication and not be able to do as much as before.

lorraine kelly and her mum

Lorraine Kelly with her mum

My dad also has health issues, including a heart condition, and with them living in Scotland, my brother Graham in Singapore and me in London, we realised they were going to need a bit of help.

So, when my mum came back home, I brought it up and I said: "Obviously, it's for you, but it's also for me and Graham. It'll make us feel better."

In an ideal world, I think that's what we all want for our parents – or anyone who's got a disability or maybe needs a little bit of extra help.

lorraine kellys parents

Lorraine Kelly's mother and father

I know I'm far from alone in this situation. My daughter is grown up now, but a lot of people are in that 'sandwich generation', with both young children and elderly parents to look after. And family members often live far away from each other, so the elderly don't always have a support network around them like they used to.

It's not always easy to have conversations about care. Many people of my parents' generation are very stoic and independent and reluctant to accept help, so it's important to involve them in the discussion and respect their wishes.

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Obviously, there might come a time when we have to consider residential care for my parents, although we're far from that at the moment. But it is better to have that conversation before there's a crisis like an accident or a fall, so you don't have to make decisions at a difficult and emotional time.

It's about getting all your options ready and the most important thing is to listen to your relatives or your friend. We might think we know what's best for them, but it’s got to be a mutual and grown-up discussion.

lorraine kelly in a pink suit© Photo: Rex

Lorraine Kelly says open discussions are essential when it comes to care for older people

But, even if you’re a really close family and you can talk about anything, it can be quite a difficult conversation to have.

Luckily, I didn’t have to look far for help. Home Instead sponsors the What If? podcast I do with my daughter Rosie; it provides flexible care so people can stay in their own homes if they want to. Their service gives me huge peace of mind.

Not everybody can afford private care, of course, and in an ideal world our social care system would be so much better financed. Care homes do the most amazing job and the people who work there are incredible, but not enough money has been ploughed into the public system so elderly people end up staying in hospital when they don’t need to. We’ve also got to make sure we pay carers what they’re worth and make them feel valued.

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It isn't just about money; it is about respect as well. When you go to places such as Asia, the elderly are revered and treated with enormous respect and we could learn a big lesson from that.

The health, happiness and wellbeing of our elderly people should be at the top of our list of priorities.

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