Forgotten and Tossed Aside (Neglect of the Elderly)
About forty years ago, there was a story told about an elderly woman who lived alone and waited everyday for her son to write her. She kept telling herself, “Tomorrow I will get a letter from him.” Then tomorrow came along with an empty mailbox. She loved her son though, and she would never lose hope.
One day as she feebly opened the mailbox, she was surprised by a letter inside. She hurriedly began to make her way back inside her house to read the letter when she had a heart attack. A neighbor rushed to her aid as the elderly woman smiled and said just before she died, “My son sent me a letter. I knew he would.”
The neighbor then opened the letter to see what the son had written to his mother. The son had not written that he loved her or that he missed her. The letter contained only information about the date on which the son was planning to send his mother to a nursing home so she wouldn’t have to live alone anymore.
The co-owner of the National Care Planning Council said, “Children grow up and parents grow down. As parents age they lose their ability to think and act as well as they did before. Some children are nice about it and stay and help their parents through it while others just abandon them.”
In the story told, it was easy for the son to keep himself emotionally distant and caught up in his own life. It was simple for him to decide to toss his mother in a nursing home to save her from the loneliness he had himself caused. The tragedy is, it would have been just as simple and just as easy to write his mother just one letter once a month expressing his love for her.
Many rumors are spread about the difficulties of being a family caregiver and most of them are true. Sometimes rather than face the stress and pain of caring for our aging parents, it seems the better option to seek out a nursing home. Every situation is unique and there is not one solution that works for everyone. Though you may be unable to care for your parents at home, you must never allow their absence from your immediate life to lead to neglect.
The love between parent and child should not diminish as years pass. Though your elderly parents may not be a constant presence in your everyday life, they cannot be forgotten or tossed aside. There are many difficult decisions that must be made as a parent ages, and many elderly lack the ability to make these decisions on their own.
How can you expect to make the best decision concerning your loved one’s future if you are not an active presence in their lives? Elderly parents miss their children when they find themselves alone in an empty house. Children, however, are caught up in their busy lives and may find it easy to forget their parents.
Make a point to visit your elderly parents regularly or at least send them a letter or email once a month. It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. As they approach their elderly years, what your parents really need is to feel the support and love of their children.
Our parents raised us and protected us when we were small and vulnerable. Now that the roles have been reversed it is time for us to provide shelter and love to our aging parents. We may not have hours each day to devote to their care, but we always have a few extra minutes to let them know that they have not been forgotten. Skip the coffee one morning and make a quick phone call to your father or mother. Don’t delay telling them ‘I love you’ because you never how much time they have left.
Posted on April 20, 2012, in Elderly Emotions and tagged abandonement of elderly, aging, caregiving, companionship, contacting your parents, elderly parents, family caregivers, loneliness among elderly, neglect of elderly, parent-child relationship. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.