Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother’s Day 2008

Plight of mothers in old folks homes

Today is Mothers' Day and many of us may have elaborate plans to spend the day with our mothers.Amidst all the celebrations it may be useful for us to pause and reflect on our own relationship with our mothers.

The mother is the most revered person throughout the history of mankind. Mothers are revered and adored, showered with affection, shown great respect and she is held in high esteem in all cultures. In fact Islam teaches that Paradise is at the feet of mothers” and Hindus regard her as a goddess of love. A Jewish Proverb says God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers”.

All wise men of the past seen to concur that a man who does not please his mother it whatever he does will never find true happiness in his own life. On this Mothers’ Day it may be useful for us to reflect on the mothers who are in away in some old folks’ home.

With materialism becoming a way of life, the care of the elderly is becoming an increasingly common problem for all. Young married couples have to work so hard to make ends meet that they have practically no time for the elderly who demand for more attention. Homes for the aged which were a taboo before are now being accepted as the only practical way out to overcome the problems related to the care of the aged these days.

If we were to visit some of these elderly in such homes we will realize firstly, none of them are happy to be in such homes separated from their families and secondly the extraordinary love they have for their children, however negligent they may be.

Most of them in these homes appear to be happy as they are provided with all their physical needs, food shelter and the company of other residents. However when we get to know them more personally, we will be surprised to realize the agony and pain these old folks are enduring in silence during their stay in such homes. This is particularly true for those who are mentally alert but physically infirm.

Despite all their needs are being met yet we can sense they are missing something in their lives. They long for something that money cannot buy, something that no relative or friend can give – love and affection of their own children. Yes, they long for the company of their children and grandchildren.

In the twilight of their lives, it is not food, shelter, comforts or gifts that matters most. What really matters is the love and company of their own children. These elderly people in old folk’s homes generally are lonely despite being surrounded by people and regularly visited by friends and relatives.

The second observation is the unshakable love these oldies have for their children. They may be unhappy with their children for having sent them there but they never let them down in front of others. They are eager to go back home but they do not mind bearing all the pain and agony of staying in a old folk’s home just because they do not want to trouble their children.It is a pity that many of us do not appreciate the boundless love our elderly parents have for us despite all our acts of ‘cruelty’ towards them.

There is no doubt that the best place for elderly is their home but sending our aged parents to old folks home does not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. What is important is to provide them with the best we can and give them the reassurance that we are there for them when they need us. Frequent visits to them and bringing them back home whenever possible will go a long way in reassuring them of our love and concern.

It is easy and exciting to be with our parents during their younger days however it is more important for us to be there for them when they really need us. When they are seriously ill, handicapped, and bed-ridden or on their death beds are we there for them to give them the moral, physical and spiritual support that they need? All they may need is just our consoling words, our loving touch or a hug but are we physically there to render that?

On this Mothers’ Day let us remember our mothers who may be languishing and yearning for our love in old folks’ homes. Let us find some place for them in our hearts and some time to bring them back to our homes where they can once again experience the love, affection and the company of her loved ones at least for a while. For some of them this may be the last time they ever return to their homes.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Anonymous said...

I almost shed a tear as I read your blog. I have so much empathy for what you said,because I am in a quandry like the one you described. I have to travel so much you would not believe it, 26-28 days out of 30. Like the Chinese say, (Shen bu you ji)i.e. I don't control my body. Other people do. I work for the material benefits of others. My wife being a daughter in law is reluctant to take care of my mom. And my sisters are too. Sometimes, I am almost near a nervous breakdown, as my sisters call me and expect me to drop everything, fly home and take mom to the doctor or to stay with mom. My sisters use the argument that they are "married out" daughters and do not have this responsibility. If this traditional logic goes, I should not have paid for my sister tertiary education. In a traditional Chinese thinking, families believe they should spend as little money on their daughters as they will be "married out". Sometimes, I just feel like giving up and put mom in a home. But, as a human being, I just could not do it.

By syaper, 10-May-2008

Anonymous said...

Family politics always makes a situation like this even harder - though I don't necessarily agree with the common misconception that by putting an older parent into a care facility you are doing them a disservice. You are admitting, for their benefit and preservation of whatever good health they have, that you are unable to give them the care that they need.
Of course there are two levels of care - high and low; if your parent requires a high level of care I don't think anyone with a profession other than nursing would be able to provide them with the daily/hourly/constant attention and care that they require. That is why these facilities exist.
My Grandmother is at a stage where my mother simply can't chase her around at all times ensuring that she doesn't harm herself (she has Alzheimers). In her case a low care facility would be great for her as she can socialise and get the care that she needs and also be visited by us whenever is convenient.

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