Old and neglected

elderly neglected

This past Monday dad received a call from his uncle-his mom’s brother-who takes care of his grandmother (my great-grandmother), telling him she looked so frail and was afraid she might be transitioning to the other world sooner rather than later. Afraid his granma would die before he saw her, he took a day off so he could travel to the countryside to visit her. Coincidentally, mom was also taking her weekly off on Tuesday. She offered to accompany him.

Tuesday morning, the two woke up early, and went to see dad’s granma. While they were away, mom called, saying they had seen her and she looked frail but was okay. That was a huge relief because the thought that dad had taken a day off in the beginning of the week sought of gave the impression his grandmother was on her dying bed.

Last time I saw her was in October last year and even though she looked thinner than I’d previously seen her, she looked so beautiful. The entire time I was looking at her I felt like I was looking at an older version of my big sister, and then I would see my grams-dad’s mom- and my dad’s siblings. I saw family members from three generations in her. The resemblance was striking.

She is the matriarch of the family; the tree, from which four generations have sprouted. That is indeed a phenomenal blessing. I’m not too sure how old she is, but I imagine she is in her late nineties or early hundreds; about a century old. Looking at the fruits of her womb, directly/indirectly, I would say she is blessed.

From her, great people have been born; for instance, three of her children, who I know, are well-to-do and furthermore, dad and his siblings all have very lucrative careers. Anyone in her shoes would be proud of her descendants.

However, there’s one big problem with that. When mom and dad arrived at around nine, at night, they showed my sisters and I some of the pictures they took of our great-granma. She didn’t just look frail, she looked malnourished, visibly pallid and in one of the photos she seemed almost lifeless. It was too creepy I just requested them to delete it.

Mom said they took it so we could get the actual image of how she looks. Those images of her infuriated me. She seemed that neglected, yet all people do in my extended family is boast about all the wealth they have. Of what use is that wealth, if it can’t help such a woman, who is now too old to fend for herself? What’s the point of having children if they won’t take care of one when age renders them helpless and dependant?

The uncle who called dad is the same one who keeps asking for money, citing the old woman’s special needs; special diet and all. The woman I saw on those photos didn’t look like one who receives any special treatment from the people, who I feel have been scamming family members off. She just seemed neglected. My heart went out to her. Her caretakers look so healthy, well-fed, yet she on the other hand looks so underfed.

Old people can be difficult. My late grams wasn’t any different. She insisted on remaining in her home when mom suggested she come live with us so we could take care of her. Mom even tricked her into coming home but a month later she said she wasn’t used to the city life, so she begged to be taken back and as mom didn’t want to impose, she took her back. Next thing we knew, she was all scrawny; malnourished and all and before long she was dead.

Old people aren’t the easiest to deal with, but at the same time, I believe it’s the responsibility of the younger members of the family to take care of them. The best way to look at this situation would be to imagine oneself, old and confined to a wheelchair courtesy of old age, and alone because the people one birthed and raised are too absorbed in their own lives to help/care.

I don’t like nursing homes. Why take an old relative to a home? They spent their halcyon days, taking care of those same children who leave them in the care of total strangers? Isn’t it everyone’s dream to spend their sunset years with loved ones? Life is a cycle; our parents take care of us when we are young, and when age catches up with them, we take care of them.

Why neglect them when they can’t take care of themselves? They used up their better years feeding and clothing us? Would it be too much to ask that we, who are still young and able, return the favour to our loved ones? It’s the least we can do to show our gratitude for their priceless work.

13 thoughts on “Old and neglected

  1. Hana Telige

    I recently saw an advertisement with an elderly lady sitting at a table, and her daughter in different roles around her: cook, housekeeper, nurse, etc. The tagline was something like, “You need help.” Ads like that make me so angry. That woman was your slave for the first 18 years of your life. To quote John Green, “You vomited on [your parents]. And they kept you.” I think because I grew up in Asia, I notice more how the elderly are treated in the States. Aly, you’re completely right, and that makes me really sad.

    1. alygeorges Post author

      It’s sad Hana, but it’s not too late. We can still turn things around; do it right. My granma died last year because the people she chose to live with neglected her. Now mom blames herself, saying maybe she should have forced her to live with us so she could take care of her. But then I tell her not to stress about it because maybe then grams would have died of some stress related illness. It’s not easy handling old people, but we need to do what’s right; take care of them. They did so much for us when they were still strong and able. It’s unfair to just treat them like a liability, just because old age has rendered them weak and needy.

    1. alygeorges Post author

      Thank you. One would imagine she would have the happiest last days but from how things are, she must be one of the saddest. Those who are taking care of her,her son and daughter-in-law, seem so eager to get rid of her. They seem to be anticipating her death. It’s just sad.

  2. Looking for the Light

    I feel your pain. When my grandmother fell and broke her hip she had to stay in a home for a week until I could get Hospice set up. She had lost most of her memory but it killed me everyday to leave there. My grandparents did more for me in one lifetime than I could for them in ten. We talked about them dying at home since I was young. That’s how so many other’s in our family took care of the elders. I was extremely close to my grandparents, if you almost any post you we see me talk about them. I was very fortunate we could afford for me to quit work to care for them. You are they can be difficult, there were days when I thought he was making hard just for the hell of it. Nothing else mattered, but making them comfortable and sharing what time we had. It was shortly after I got married when my grandmother had a stroke. I spent the first 9 years of my marriage taking care of them. It was hard on us, we didn’t see each for weeks at a time. Luckily he had the same family values. I wanted to hold my grandmother’s hand as she took her last breath. I wanted them to know I was right there to help them pass on to heaven. Sorry to go on like this. I wanted you to know your questions and feelings are legitimate. Hopefully you will get a chance to see her soon. I’m her if you need to talk. 🙂

    1. alygeorges Post author

      I’m sorry too you went through all that. I know it’s not easy. It’s hard taking care of the aged because they’re just too difficult to handle; sometimes it even feel like they make things hard on purpose, but we should just see past their shortcomings and give them all the love we can afford. They don’t deserve anything less. You gave your grandparents the best you could. That’s all that matters. Wherever they are, they know you love them. Thank you for your support and for sharing your experience with me, I really appreciate it. 🙂

  3. jowaljones

    My great-grandma also suffered the same fate in her last days. She passed on a day aftet we had visited her. She stayed alone, with the caretaker we had employed mistreating her.
    Come to think of it, when I’m old and scrawny, I wouldn’t mind being taken to a nursing home.

    1. alygeorges Post author

      It’s better to suffer in the hands of strangers than in the hands of loved ones. You know, I overheard my parents speaking on phone about their trip to see my great-grams a few days ago. I couldn’t believe what I heard mom saying. She was asking dad if he heard what his uncle was telling them in his granma’s presence; apparently, he asked mom and dad to take nice pics of the frail woman, so they could use them for the obituary/eulogy…I was beyond shocked, that people could actually be that inhuman.


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