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ELDERLY CARE HOMES – A WAY OUT FOR THE AGED?

One quick question before I start talking about what is on my mind.

Would you like to live in an old people’s home when you get to that age? Or would you put your aged in an old people’s homes?

This is a question that has been plaguing my mind for some time now and I hope I will be able to shed light on the issue.

Why this question in the first place? 

Well, I see many aged people live alone without the people who matter most to them. I see old men and women surrounded by strangers in their old age when all they want is to be with their children and loved ones. I see them live in isolation towards the tail end of their lives.

Right! some people have the privilege of living in big houses, and having house maids and drivers at their beck and call, these still do not replace the warmth and affection they yearn for from their loved ones. The calls they receive from their children and grandchildren are not sufficient to satisfy the longing in their hearts. The longing for the presence of their own children and blood relatives who are too busy to be around them or too far away to even care.

It’s sometimes so bad that a lot of aged people internalize their needs, this is so because they sense some hesitancy on the part of their loved ones, they watch how their children rush to have their visit with them over as quickly as possible, why? because they have other things they need to attend to. The old do not rush neither can they rush, so in order not to be intrusive, they keep mute without bothering to express their real feelings. Therefore, they keep their feelings, thoughts and emotions bottled up.

Who shares their real deep feelings and fears with housemaids and drivers anyway? No one.

While some elderly people are not totally abandoned, what I see mostly around me is emotional abandonment. They receive every material support from family members when the key need at that point in their lives is to reminisce about old times, relive old memories and validate their feelings of being loved till the end by their offspring and loved ones.

The Reason

The change in family system (both structurally and functionally) is the chief reason for this situation we have found ourselves in.

– Change in family system (structural)

The movement from extended family practice to Nuclear family system is what I mean by this.

I remember my early years of growing up. My grandmother and grandfather’s compound was always filled with different people. My parents’ nieces, nephews, cousins and cousins’ cousins… Lol.

There was always someone around at every point in time. The task and responsibility for family sustainability was shared by all. People laughed together and cried together. They were rich together and were never poor because they all had one another. Food, clothing and shelter were rarely a problem because everyone contributed something to the system. Even the old people had the responsibility of caring and nurturing the youngest members of the family. They were relevant even though they could not go out to hustle anymore.

But the reverse is the case in the new Nuclear system of family. The number which was a strength in the extended family system has dwindled. Family units are fewer and included strangers who are mostly paid to care for and nurture the young ones. Something that was totally free in the former family system. Members of the family become vulnerable to external influences and countless other things, all because of having some level of privacy and independence.

– Change in family system (functional)

This is when family values and the sense of belonging have been lost. Members of the family no longer possess the culture that fosters love and affection. The social values are eroded and family members do not even communicate anymore.

One of these cultures is the practice of family members dining together at least once a day. Where all members are gathered around the dining table to eat together and catch up on things about one another. It’s where punishments are meted out and tasks are given out. I remember our dining table from way back. My father would draw everyone into a conversation, somehow every event that happened during the day would be discussed including all the misconduct by anyone in the house. We were encouraged on this same table and several times reprimanded for all we did wrong.

These days, every member eats elsewhere in the house. Some in their libraries in front of the computer, while some do in front of the television, eating and catching up on their favorite shows.

How can values be passed on to other people when they rarely gather together in one place except when they are going to church on Sundays. Children who didn’t receive love and emotional support from their parents cannot give it back to them in their old age.

The Effect of this on our present

The aged are left in the care of housemaids. Alone and lonely with cable television to keep them company. It’s even worse when they suffer some forms of disability.

They suffer endlessly in the hands of these strangers who have no emotional connection with them.

They start exhibiting some attention-seeking behaviors, they suffer depression and some outright commit suicide. While leading most to early death.

Back to my earlier question

Would I not rather put my parents in care homes where I’m sure they will have comfortable accommodation, good medical care, good food and above all companionship from other people who are equally resident with them in the facility? Rather than leave them not properly cared for.

At least I’m sure of workers being guided by professionalism. I and my siblings including other family members would visit with them and spend quality time with them. They even have the opportunity to form new friendships and bonds in the old age.

What do you think?

One quick question before I start talking about what is on my mind.

Would you like to live in an old people’s home when you get to that age? Or would you put your aged in an old people’s homes?

This is a question that has been plaguing my mind for some time now and I hope I will be able to shed light on the issue.

Why this question in the first place?

Well, I see many aged people live alone without the people who matter most to them. I see old men and women surrounded by strangers in their old age when all they want is to be with their children and loved ones. I see them live in isolation towards the tail end of their lives.

Right! some people have the privilege of living in big houses, and having house maids and drivers at their beck and call, these still do not replace the warmth and affection they yearn for from their loved ones. The calls they receive from their children and grandchildren are not sufficient to satisfy the longing in their hearts. The longing for the presence of their own children and blood relatives who are too busy to be around them or too far away to even care.

It’s sometimes so bad that a lot of aged people internalize their needs, this is so because they sense some hesitancy on the part of their loved ones, they watch how their children rush to have their visit with them over as quickly as possible, why? because they have other things they need to attend to. The old do not rush neither can they rush, so in order not to be intrusive, they keep mute without bothering to express their real feelings. Therefore, they keep their feelings, thoughts and emotions bottled up.

Who shares their real deep feelings and fears with housemaids and drivers anyway? No one.

While some elderly people are not totally abandoned, what I see mostly around me is emotional abandonment. They receive every material support from family members when the key need at that point in their lives is to reminisce about old times, relive old memories and validate their feelings of being loved till the end by their offspring and loved ones.

The Reason

The change in family system (both structurally and functionally) is the chief reason for this situation we have found ourselves in.

– Change in family system (structural)

The movement from extended family practice to Nuclear family system is what I mean by this.

I remember my early years of growing up. My grandmother and grandfather’s compound was always filled with different people. My parents’ nieces, nephews, cousins and cousins’ cousins… Lol.

There was always someone around at every point in time. The task and responsibility for family sustainability was shared by all. People laughed together and cried together. They were rich together and were never poor because they all had one another. Food, clothing and shelter were rarely a problem because everyone contributed something to the system. Even the old people had the responsibility of caring and nurturing the youngest members of the family. They were relevant even though they could not go out to hustle anymore.

But the reverse is the case in the new Nuclear system of family. The number which was a strength in the extended family system has dwindled. Family units are fewer and included strangers who are mostly paid to care for and nurture the young ones. Something that was totally free in the former family system. Members of the family become vulnerable to external influences and countless other things, all because of having some level of privacy and independence.

– Change in family system (functional)

This is when family values and the sense of belonging have been lost. Members of the family no longer possess the culture that fosters love and affection. The social values are eroded and family members do not even communicate anymore.

One of these cultures is the practice of family members dining together at least once a day. Where all members are gathered around the dining table to eat together and catch up on things about one another. It’s where punishments are meted out and tasks are given out. I remember our dining table from way back. My father would draw everyone into a conversation, somehow every event that happened during the day would be discussed including all the misconduct by anyone in the house. We were encouraged on this same table and several times reprimanded for all we did wrong.

These days, every member eats elsewhere in the house. Some in their libraries in front of the computer, while some do in front of the television, eating and catching up on their favorite shows.

How can values be passed on to other people when they rarely gather together in one place except when they are going to church on Sundays. Children who didn’t receive love and emotional support from their parents cannot give it back to them in their old age.

The Effect of this on our present

The aged are left in the care of housemaids. Alone and lonely with cable television to keep them company. It’s even worse when they suffer some forms of disability.

They suffer endlessly in the hands of these strangers who have no emotional connection with them.

They start exhibiting some attention-seeking behaviors, they suffer depression and some outright commit suicide. While leading most to early death.

Back to my earlier question

Would I not rather put my parents in care homes where I’m sure they will have comfortable accommodation, good medical care, good food and above all companionship from other people who are equally resident with them in the facility? Rather than leave them not properly cared for.

At least I’m sure of workers being guided by professionalism. I and my siblings including other family members would visit with them and spend quality time with them. They even have the opportunity to form new friendships and bonds in the old age.

What do you think?

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This post was written by

Ayokanmi ADEGOKE is the founder of AyBlog and a registered Nurse and Midwife who received her training at OAUTHC Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha and Ondo State School of Midwifery, Akure who currently practices as a Medical Social Worker with a focus on Case work, School social work, Substance Abuse and Clinical social work.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Bolade says:

    Wow! Good job dear. This is so helpful.☺