Synopsis : The old age care is a pressing need as we all get old some day. The blog studies the importance of old age care and how the younger generation needs to deal with this crucial subject as it provides a blueprint of their own old age care issue later.
Old age care
Source: Google photo
I was just watching the TV program here in the Philippines where the reporters showed the appalling conditions in which the poor people live in the so-called old age homes run by the government.
They showed how the old men and women sleep on bare iron beds without even a mattress or sheet and how two women shared a single bed because they did not have enough beds for all the residents. The common refrain is that the government does not have the funds to take care of all who need to be taken care of so the TV reporters are asking private donors to sponsor the old people by bringing in food and other supplies that are needed.
The reporters complained of unhygienic conditions in which the old people live and the foul smell because the quarters are not cleaned properly or regularly all because of shortage of funds.
To rub the salt on the wound these stupid reporters then ask the old and sick people what their problems are and why their sons and daughters do not visit them and bring in the supplies they need so desperately. It is like asking a very poor and sick person why he does not go to the hospital or why he does not buy medical insurance.
Such insensitivity is common among the reporters who while showing the actual conditions of the old age homes ask stupid questions to which there are no answers and the old people simply shed tears in reply which is like reality TV and gets good ratings.
But life is not a reality TV show. This is a common story in poor countries but the so-called more developed countries also face similar issues. There has been CCTV footage taken in some homes where it is clearly shown that some attendants physically mistreat the residents and show contempt and utter neglect for them. Who really knows what goes on in the old age homes where there are no cameras to record or are intentionally turned off so that no one will know?
There is a great divide between the poor old people who have no medical insurance and no one to look after them and the middle-income people who can afford to live in a home where they are very well taken care of by the staff.
The old age homes are sprouting all over India but they are being built as business to attract those who can afford them. The internet is full of such homes that are beautiful surrounded by acres of garden, where the residents get their own room and where nurses and other care givers are in attendance 24/7, where the residents have a large common dining room where good food is served, where the residents can play chess or paint or write using their computers. The complete medical care provided by such homes makes them a good place to retire to but only if you have money .It is definitely not for the poor.
So where do the poor people of this world go in their old age and why they cannot stay in their own homes and why their children neglect them?
There was a movie made on this subject although I can’t remember the name of it now. It showed that a very old woman who lived in her own house was looked after by her spinster daughter. One day a social worker showed up to check on her and found the old woman with bruises on her body, with fever and pain. The old women said that she fell down and hurt herself but the social worker was not convinced so reported the case to the police.
The police found out that the woman was beaten by her own spinster daughter who hated her and did not want to take care of her so she took out her anger on her hapless mother and treated her badly.
The old woman was so ashamed of admitting it that she lied about it to the social worker. I can’t remember the rest of the movie but the spinster was charged with a felony.
There was another case in our neighborhood in India where an old couple secretly left their house in the middle of the night with just a few belongings because their daughter in law was mistreating them and did not feed them. The couple sought shelter in an old age home run by the religious institution but such cases are far from isolated ones.
The relationship between a daughter in law and the old people is not a normal relationship even under the best of circumstances because she comes from a different family and does not have the same feelings as she would have for her own parents so many families suffer the consequences as mentioned in the case above.
Normally speaking, the son is supposed to look after the parents in a patriarchal society and the daughter in the matriarchal society but how many take care of their parents when they are sick and feeble? Now I am writing about the poor people who are so neglected by their offspring but it is by no means limited to the poor people only.
We see that in the United States, often the sons and daughters put their parents in the old age home somewhere, pay the cost and consider their duty done. Seldom they visit them but send a card or some flowers on the Mother’s day or the Father’s day once a year so they are lonely and wish their relatives and friends would visit them once in a while.
There is a classic story that I read somewhere so I will mention it here. There was a woman who was the wife of a manager of a company and lived in comfort in her own home, raised her children with great care and took photos of them to record all the important events like birthdays etc. and even made 8 mm movies of their first walk and first day in school. She was an ideal mother who doted on her kids.
The kids grew up and left home as most kids do and did not keep in regular touch with her. The daughter became a drop out and a hippie smoking pot and living a promiscuous life while one son joined the army and was based in Germany while a third son lived out in the west not keeping in touch with their mother. They also did not keep in touch with their siblings.
Now the woman was old and decided to live in a hospital because she had medical issues that she could not handle staying at home alone. Her husband had died and her kids were nowhere near her. No one visited her in the hospital so to keep her sanity she started reading the encyclopedias and read every volume.
Then one day the hippie daughter showed up to know what her mother was up to and specifically what she planned to do about her home and other things. The old lady replied that she had donated her home and cars to charity because it was her home and she was entitled to do as she pleased. This did not please the daughter and she left very angry because she was only after the property and did not care about her mother who took great care of her when she was a child.
There is a lesson in this story. It is the relationship between the parents and their kids and whether or not this relationship is based on mutual love or just the give and take relationship based on greed of the kids. All parents deserve respect if not love from their children because good parenting is a hard job anywhere.
Now rich people give their kids the best home possible and buy them all kinds of toys and send them to good schools and later to good colleges while the poor parents can’t do the same but that does not mean they do not love their offspring as much.
In his book called The Prophet, writer and philosopher Kahlil Gibran says that the kids do not owe anything to their parents except love and respect for all the hardships they parents go through to raise them and it is quite unfair for the parents to demand care, money, gifts etc.
In some cultures like here in the Philippines, it is quite acceptable for the parents to make demands from their kids specially those who are abroad so they demand a new car or tickets to go to the US or build a new house for them. They even admit that it is the turn of the kids to pay for all they had done for them to raise them. This attitude is morally indefensible and shows that such parents do not have self-respect.
There is a scene in the Godfather movie when he says “today consider it as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day but a time may come when you may have to repay it”.
Gibran says that this is wrong of the parents to make such demands so people who have self-respect should prepare for their own old age. But self-respect is in short supply when people are poor and cannot take care of themselves.
People who remain poor all their miserable lives are the subject of this blog. Rich people can take care of themselves and they do not depend on their children in their old age but this is not the case with the poor people so they depend on the government.
As mentioned earlier, their government fails them so they end up sleeping on bare steel cots in very unhygienic old age homes where the bare minimum care is often lacking. I don’t know if they get enough to eat.
They are poor because they did not get any education that is necessary to get a good job. They produced numerous children but were unable to take care of them, send them to good schools and give them what they needed to succeed in life. Such children often end up as drug addicts or prostitutes at worst or getting menial jobs at very low pay.
This is the vicious cycle where the poverty breeds more poverty. There are no easy answers to this issue but I know many people who were poor and without much education yet they managed to live a decent life and prospered through hard work and remained honest.
There is a blog I wrote called The result of hard work that is perhaps worth a look in this respect.
While I feel sorry for all those old people who live alone or in old age homes under poor conditions, I also feel that each person is responsible for his life and how he or she decides to spend it. Poverty itself is not the ultimate culprit as many poor people rise above their poverty through sheer hard work and honesty.
I salute all governments that create jobs for their poor and raise their living standards. This is the opportunity all poor people need to break out of their vicious cycle. One Chinese official said that their government raised hundreds of millions of their citizens out of poverty by creating jobs for them and built very modern and decent living quarters all over the country. This was the greatest human rights achievement than the violations the western press harps about. I agree.
What poor people need most of all is decent jobs and a good and clean place to live in with modern amenities. There is a similar effort going on in India although not in the same scale as in China but both these countries show that they are moving in the right direction.
My earlier blog called The remaining days on somewhat similar topic is perhaps worth a look.
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