What you build in your life can come back to you in your old age, be it good or bad.
'Cherish All Your Happy Moments, They Make a Fine Cushion for Old Age' (Booth Tarkington)
However, what if you don't! What happens if you get to your old age and all you've done is caused damage; what if you haven't made many, or any, happy moments? What does old age hold for you, where will your children be, will you have any friends at the time you most need them? There are a huge number of elderly people who are alone at the end of their lives, as a nation, we find this sad but does anyone ask why they are alone. Some are alone because they have no family left, others are estranged from their families and we don't seem to understand why. This is just one insight into a difficult subject and one reason for either absentee children or the difficulties of some children to be there for an elderly parent.
There is an unspoken, underlying culture in the UK that says when someone is old the children should be there for their parents; this is probably the same everywhere. If a child loves their parents then they would want to do all they can to help them even if it's not easy. These parents and children have each stored up happy memories so bringing them closer together as they all age. I met a woman on the bus, who said during our conversation that she would love to go home and put her feet up after a long day at work, but she couldn't possibly go home without going to see her elderly Mum first to make sure she was alright. It was easy to see how much she loved her Mum.
This isn't always the case though, what if parents have severely abused their children, what then. If there were happy memories, and often there still are, they are overshadowed by the darkness that lies between them. Adult survivors of child abuse itself is a subject that until recently hasn't been discussed much in this country, but it is now all over the news. Therefore, in relation to the culture we have here where we are all expected to be a part of our parents' lives in their old age to some extent, is it fair to expect those who've been abused to do the same; most struggle with the trauma from the abuse in some form all their lives.
We do have an amazing care system here, both the government and health services in the UK like to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible, which I think is the best option; I know I would prefer that in my own old age. There are many care services available here, district nurses, carers, for example, all who can go into homes to help this happen.
Therefore, as I move forward here, I'm not talking on the subject of children of abused parents having to care for their abusive parent/parents. It's more a point of, what happens if you are involved in some way. What is the attitude that comes across from many people when you say no to something, without you having to divulge why? It can be anything from acceptance, which is rare, to disgust, just as rare; it's usually somewhere in between, more of a 'why' with either an underlying sadness or anger. This underlying attitude can come from anyone who knows the elderly parent, from hospital staff, carers, to neighbours and friends.
Some children are completely absent and their parents have done nothing wrong, but why should society judge, make assumptions that all children should be there for their parents whenever they ask them to without knowing anything about them. Most of them only meet these parents in their old age, and they see sweet old Mildred or Fred who can't care for themselves, not the abusive person they once were. Alternatively, there are friends who don't know what happened, they've no idea what went on behind closed doors. There is a call here for a change in society's underlying assumptions about the frail elderly people they see, and that some children are absent from their parents' lives for a reason. It should be up to the individual as to how much they are there for their elderly parents, especially under these circumstances, without having to justify themselves by explaining to everyone why. It should not be up to society to make that decision as a whole for everyone.
I worked for a woman when I was young who, at the age of sixteen, came home from school to find that her parents and younger sister had gone. The house was empty and they had not left any message to say where they had gone. She did eventually track them down, it took two years, her father had taken them away because he got her younger sister pregnant for the second time, the first time she'd had an abortion.
This made me wonder what either of those girls would have done as their parents aged. More importantly, if they'd walked away what would the people around their parents, who didn't know their history, think about them; the likely answer is that they would be asking why they weren't there to support them.
I attempted to find views on this subject in the UK, I found very little and what I did find was similar to the following example.
'...But I believe that even if you may not like your parents (justifiably) and they have never been kind to you, if you are able to look after them, you should.'i
There are now many sites with comments about child abuse but for adult survivors of this, and how to deal with their parents in old age I found almost nothing on UK Web sites. It appears to me that it's not discussed because it goes against our culture of difficult subjects not being discussed unless forced to, maybe this is the same in other countries, I don't know.
This essay has only covered a small section of this subject. The care system works well here, and as long as you tell everyone everything about what has happened, people do understand. This, however, is like being abused all over again. Just like a rape victim having to go to court to tell a whole lot of strangers what has been done to her while the rapist watches on; reliving it over again.
For example, what do you do if someone asks you to do something that you're terrified to do because you're putting yourself back in that abusive situation? What if the abuser is sitting next to you, you can't explain to these people then, especially when the nurse or care worker is being so insistent? Sometimes they are asking you on the phone, can you come to the hospital, knowing that they will then force you to go home with your parent. This is because they are reluctant to let them go home alone. I have seen these exact scenarios, it's hard and unpleasant, the nurse is under pressure and they see an answer and don't understand why the person is hesitant. Perhaps nurses should talk to the son or daughter in private; not in front of the patient so as not to jump to conclusions. This would give them the chance to explain any difficulties that the request may cause, for any reason.
These are situations where the parent is still living at home and children are doing their best to help that parent despite the previous abuse but society makes it difficult to do that and for them to still stay mentally healthy.
I hope that both my children and I have enough cherished memories so that they will not stay away when I'm old, but none of us knows that until we get there.
iRead more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1248126/Should-forced-care-elderly-par...
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