Background: It is predicted that over the next 30 years, there will be a significant increase in the number of elderly parents who care for their children with intellectual disability. This paper is part of a larger qualitative study which investigated the unpleasant experiences of these parents.
Materials and Methods: A phenomenological approach was adopted and data were collected through unstructured in‑depth interviews with elderly parents of children with intellectual disability. The data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s seven‑step method.
Results: “Bitterness” is one of the four emergent themes extracted in this study which has five theme clusters: inappropriate behavior toward the child in the society, the society’s failure to support the child with intellectual disability, sorrows experienced by parents, the child’s problems, and barriers in the care of the child with intellectual disability. One significant barrier in the last theme cluster is limitations due to aging.
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that the elderly parents of children with intellectual disability experience many sorrows and unpleasant feelings, but they mostly consider the social factors as the cause of problems and not the presence of the child. The results also indicate that older parents cannot look after the child as before in their old age; so, future well‑designed studies are required for identification of the process of supporting them.