How a society treats it’s old people

Posted: March 5, 2012 in Care of the elderly, Uncategorized
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I believe that any society should treat its old folk with respect and consideration. We all, whether we like it or not, come from hunter gatherers. In indigenous populations the world over the old are respected for their wisdom. They are cared for in family groups and not shut away as we do in the west. I saw an article today which seems to equate the way we deal with the old and infirm as equivalent to torture.

It is time we took a long hard look at how we deal with our parents. The photograph is of one of my relatives as a young girl. She was fortunate and never needed to be placed in a home. Part of what I do now is to try and protect the elderly from the profiteering of the owners of ‘Care’ homes. It seems to me a truism that the powers entrusted with investigating abuses in care homes find the task unpallatable. The legislation is far from perfect. The lawyers who advise have conflicting views and a desire to save their budgets for more ‘high profile’ jobs. The supervisors often believe that either the problem does not exist, or if it does it will be too resource intensive to be thoroughly investigated. The government must shoulder part of the blame, not only for the apalling legislation but also for the reduction in funding. Without investigators on the ground, from CQC to Police to Social Services, how do they think such matters will be resolved.

Of course the view may well be that the elderly do not contribute much to the economy of this green and pleasant land. They are also heavy users of resources. This view deliberately ignores and obscures the truth. Without the elderly there would be no green and pleasant land. They laid the foundation of prudence and thrift which now seems long forgotten. If the spoilt individuals in Parliament never had to worry about money, the dominant majority being born to money, why do we expect they would understand thrift and the point behind saving.

The elderly often become invisible because they are tucked away, out of sight out of mind. Left to fester in ill run homes where, the sooner they die the more profit for the homes and the families. This allegedly United Kingdom is riddled from floor to ceiling with self serving greed. The old relations can be dragged out once a week for tea then put back in their box to suffer the long lonely days until they truly give up and slip from their earthly existence.

Other cultures look after their elderly. They have a greater social conscience. The elderly can help look after the children, they can amuse and impart knowledge with their stories an knowledge. They are seen as continuing to contribute to the well being and the social stability of the nation / group.

In the west we only see pitfalls, we see problems. We have grown used to living apart and believe this is the new natural order. At the same time we fail to identify the real link between divided families and mental illness. The correlation between isolation and disease. The issues caused by self interest and greed at the expense of the less fortunate. Their will always be those who have more, it seems in this age the idea of philanthropy has died. ‘I need all my money for myself, indeed I need your money for myself too.’

I should love to see a nation of philanthropic giving. Of the closure of most, if not all care homes. If the elderly are sick, they should have free unfettered access to health care. If they are infirm they can stay at home or live with their children or communities. Young people are now mobile, but that mobility comes at a price. No longer do children live, as a rule, in the same town / village / neighbourhood as their parents. Surely with all the wisdom gained by the previous millenia we must be able to solve these problems in a dignified and humane way.

  1. The Forage says:

    So true! We destroy our communities and the connections between each other more and more. And then try to fill the void with all the crap we buy.

    • If only we could learn the lesson material goods do not provide happiness. It is the contact of those near and dear to us and the interaction we have with others.

  2. Since leaving the UK and moving to Andalucia, I never fail to be amazed by the difference in family culture between the two countries. I can’t speak for the rest of Spain, and Andalucia may be different because of its historical poverty. My neighbours are in their mid-eighties now, their younger daughter lives behind them with her husband and two kids, and their older daughter, plus her family live next door but one. Every day, there is much chatting outside on the terrace with the oldies, by at least one or more of the younger families. The oldies have a role in life and are – relatively – healthy, and totally mentally agile.

    Back in the UK I came at the care home side from the NHS, and ran up against one of those grasping owners. I cringed whenever I went around the soulless places and saw sad old people condemned to a miserable limbo before death. When my father died, my partner and I agreed we would never let that happen to my mother.

    Apols for the long comment. It’s a great post, and I should probably write something on my own blog instead of taking up your space 😀

    • Your experience echoes mine in Germany and France, family units tend to stay together more and support each other. The elderly feel they are a help not a hinderence to be locked away out of sight, they are useful. The feelings of usefulness are important to all human beings. The elderly win, their children win, society wins.

      Thanks for the comment, I love to hear from others commenting on what I have written, regardless of what the view is they express.

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