Having elders in my family is something of a gift. I shall be eternally grateful for the advice, love and willingness my elders have shown me over many years. So to be now confronted with difficult decisions regarding their personal well-being, is confronting.
I have an elderly mother and mother-in-law. Both are in splendid health and remain quite robust considering their shared late years. Which makes it more difficult than ever to have to consider alternate arrangements for their futures, given age simply waits for no-one.
Both parents are living independently cooking meals, attending to chores and generally comfortable within their spaces. So understanding this, it is with a degree of reticence I communicate with siblings on the matter.
With all of the love and caring in the world, my siblings generally ( and may I say : correctly ) believe new arrangements need to be made for the overall welfare of our parents. They understand the importance of the factual evidence which is available today, on quality of life and the needs of older people; which clearly outlines the dangers of living alone as compared to living a social, administered life. A life not causing the elderly the worries and heart-ache of making decisions and/or jeopardising health and safety through accidents.
Yes in my heart-of -hearts I understand this to be true. However my un-willingness to front the conversations stemming from others, is not ignorance based. Nor does there lie a deep psychological avoidance in the hope the “Problem” might just go away. No I am quite aware of the situation and stand on fairly firm ground having worked for some time in elderly care.
There appears to be less of concern today for the resilience factor which is inherent in we humans. The ability each of us has to carry on and to brush ourselves off only to fall again. The character trait essential to keeping us loved and fed. We are less inclined to treat humans as individuals ( in this case the elderly) and more inclined to rely on models generated, quite appropriately through science. Our closing off of this natural resource through smother-love is essentially more harmful to us all in the long run.
We seem to gain strength from adversity and whilst this is not to be wished upon anyone, it is nonetheless a contributing factor in us retaining our independence. Making our own decisions and effecting our own out-comes, gives us sound reasons to expect good health to follow. Remaining involved in the day-to-day decisions required to function and to operate a selected dwelling space, ensures we still stand for something and continue being relevant.
As people become older, our families begin the worry phase of how to ensure their good health and on-going vitality. In short, we want the best possible outcome before the inevitable final outcome of death. Staving off death in the proper and loving belief that quality of life goes hand-in-hand with extending life. These concerns of family often result from extended exposure to the “Oldness” of relatives over periods such as Christmas and Easter. Times when family get to sit down together and chew the fat.
My personal belief is for the elderly to retain independence for as long as health allows. I am certain that each time my love for my parents relieves them of a task, I am contributing in my own way to their their on-going welfare and conversely to their demise through diluting their own inner resilience.
No doubt the conversations will go on for some time yet, but my hope is that during the course of attempting to do good, our strong and happy family doesn’t find ourselves choosing a “Model” outcome where “Individual choice”made by the elder could be possible.