Jean Kittson and her parents, about whom she has written a book.
Jean Kittson and her parents, about whom she has written a book.

Kittson shares guide to care for ageing parents

IF you are experiencing your fifth or sixth decade of life, then it's likely you will understand the meaning of "Sandwich Generation'' perhaps even a tad too well!

The label identifies a generation who may still have children at home (perhaps even grandchildren), are actively engaged in their own careers and are providing support for their parents as they transition into the final stage of life. If you're not organised it can be a hard act to manage.

Now the lady who shot to fame with her comedienne gig in the ABC's late-1980s show The Big Gig and is also an accomplished actor, writer and public speaker has come to the stage where she too has joined the "Sandwich Generation''.

Sixty-four-year-old Jean Kittson has written a book around her experiences with her ageing parents, Dad (94) and Mum (95).

In vintage Kittson style, it's written with love, humour and warmth.

She said watching her parents age ha taught her about "dignity, grace and courage''.

Her book No Need to Talk about Mum and Dad was four years in the making and offers a practical and complete guide to everything you need to know about aged care in Australia, including home help, palliative care and last rites.

"But I really wrote it for my daughters so they would know how to look after me," she joked.


Jean Kittson’s book
Jean Kittson’s book


Kittson's daughters are 28 and 22 and she sees them as lucky to have two grandparents still living.

"It means your kids really have to think about someone else," she said.

"They learn about social responsibility.

"My parents are not a burden - their humanity adds to the fabric of life."

But for a smooth passage through ageing, Kittson emphasises using the book as a manual and "staying a chapter ahead in the book".

She acknowledged that ensuring her parents were in the proper place with proper care at the right time had been a long journey.

In her book she relates an incident with her father when he was washing his car, got caught up in the hose and ended up in hospital.

"That was when he was 75," she recalled.

She believes that incident marked a change in her parents' lives. She talks naturally about role reversal, of her now "parenting her parents''. However, at times it reverts back.

Ultimately, Kittson advises to put our own fears behind us.

- We Need To Talk About Mum and Dad is on sale now.