Are old age homes a necessity?
Would you have an older generation living with you?
Last week I visited an old age home in Alexandra and what I saw there was very sad. I am trying to understand the different reasons why people put their parents, their loved ones in old age homes? Is that the best way for them to spend the last days on this earth? What killed me the most was an old lady who covered her face as soon as we entered the building and would not let us see her face and I was wondering why she seemed ashamed of her situation- and that really broke my heart.

The safest place for an older loved one?

A friend said to me sometimes you have no choice if you are all working far away from home, the best option is to take the parent to an old age home for her safety.  We know that the crime is rife in South Africa and rather than have her raped or robbed by thugs it is better to place her in an old age home. Some are abused by their own children and their pension money is taken from them and to avoid this, the best option is to place them in an old age home. Rather than take the older relative to an area where will be lonely, she’d probably prefer an old age home around her area so that her extended family can also visit her, suggested my friend.

What if you had been a difficult child?

Fair enough and I get her point but this is the same woman who struggled with raising you and she never put you in a place of safety! What then makes you want to place her in an old-age home? Why can’t you rather hire someone to look after her when you are at work and let the old man or woman stay with you so that you can also monitor her situation?  Is it that difficult for us to look after our parents? Is it perhaps the lack of ubuntu in us? Someone said that only when you are in the situation will you understand. Maybe – maybe not.

I often wonder how often those men and women are visited by their children. Did the mothers I saw last week get to spend Mother’s Day with their families? Will the fathers spend their Father’s Day with their families? I am just wondering if it is not just an easy option because some do not want to take responsibility for their parents, and maybe because they have enough money they would rather outsource the responsibility.

Are the old no longer necessary in the society of youth? Are they merely an annoyance which can be tolerated from a distance only? Is our society becoming so self-centred? I am sure there is no place like home. I think about the pain they are feeling. On the other hand, I commend the daughters-in-law who take in their mothers- in-law and look after them, even when the mothers-in-laws can no longer do anything for themselves and just sit in bed, needing to be washed and changed even when these mothers-in-law’s own daughters are still around. Those are heart-warming stories that make me think that some people still care.

These are things to consider while you are the parents of young children- after all, they may one day be making decisions on your behalf, and you want them to have learned by your good example.

Read more by Masanda Peter

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