Caring for parents, an obligation not an option
I refer to James Gonzales’ letter “Introduce law against parent dumping”(Star ,April 22).I share his concerns and deplore parent dumping, a present day practice of convenience by many children. Introducing laws to ban such practices may reduce the incidences of parent dumping to a certain and it should be considered seriously. However it is not the best solution, as it will not prevent the misery elderly people have to undergo at the twilight of the lives when their children dump them as they are of no use to them anymore. I dread to imagine when we had to resort to legislation to enforce the love for parents by their children.
What is needed is proper education; instilling the sense of respect, gratitude and caring for parents among the children from a very early age in the home, school and religious institutions. They have to be taught that caring for their parents when they are old is their sacred obligation, which they must not shred. This should be done not by just preaching by the living examples of parents, teachers and religious leaders. When the children today are only taught to make money at all costs with little regards for moral values, it would be foolish of us to expect the good values of humanity in them when they grow up.
Malaysians generally still love their parents but regrettably the number of those who don’t is on the rise. With increasing standard of living the life expectancy of the average Malaysian has prolonged. Today our parents are healthier and live longer than before. This has put greater strain on our financial and physical resources to care for their special needs at their advanced age.
Caring for our elderly parents has become a problem these days when both husband and wife have to work to make ends meet. In addition to that we have to provide for the needs of the children which are increasing tremendously over the years.
There is no doubt that we have to give priority to our own spouse and children. At the same time we also have a duty towards our aged parents. Some of them may be healthy while others may suffer from various illnesses or even be bed-ridden.
Very often it is impossible for us to be there physically all the time to care for them especially those who are very old and infirm. We have no choice but to send them to an old folk’s home where their basic needs and nursing care are available. In our culture sending our parents to old folks home is considered a despicable and ungrateful act. Is it really so?
There are 2 main needs of an elderly person, companionship and medical. No single individual or family can provide both of these effectively. On the other hand a properly run old folk’s home, staffed with medical expertise and well trained and caring helpers, may be better poised to provide both these needs reasonably well. Unfortunately such a home is hard to come by and if it does it is often beyond the means of many.
Sending our aged parents to old folks home should not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. Honouring our parents is not just providing food and shelter but being a companion to rid them of the loneliness and fear that grips them in the twilight years of their lives.
Time has also come for the setting up of Day Care centres for the elderly like the nurseries for children. Many elderly men and women could be sent there to keep them occupied with others of their age at the same time reduce the risks of accidents when they left all alone at home. This will not only provide them with good companionship but relief the burden on their working children who can have some peace of mind at their places of work.
Many children tend to overlook the fact that there are many aged parents who are captives in their own homes. There may be many in the family but yet the elderly are left lonely as no one has the time to spare for them.
We tend to forget the days when our parents showered all the love we needed unconditionally. To them then, the love for us made their sacrifice a pleasure not pain whereas for many of us caring for them at their advanced age has become a painful burden, which we hope others will alleviate.
Our treatment of our elderly parents, like our children, must always be guided by our love for them. Laws cab be enforced to force children to keep their elderly parents with them but there is way we can enforce love for them. What is important is for us to ensure that wherever they may be, in our homes or in an old folk’s home, they must always be in our hearts.