Tag Archives: neglecting the elderly

And… the inevitable came to pass

old and abandoned

The inevitable happened. Dad’s grandma, remember her? From my post old and neglected? She passed away last Friday. Mom called my big sister to give her the sad news, and she subsequently told us. As she talked with mom on phone, I could tell it was bad news because she reached for a seat, her legs seeming to weaken. Before she could even tell us what mom had told her I immediately guessed it had something to do with our great grams.

“What did mom say?” I asked anxiously the instant she hung up. I suppressed the words, ‘Who died?’ that were almost spilling out of my mouth.

She inhaled then replied, “Dad’s grams passed away.”

I was deeply saddened by the news, but somehow it didn’t shock me. Our great grams had been admitted in hospital a few days before then and mom had been told by her sister-in-law she wasn’t eating and had refused to take her medication. Given that she was about a century old, I knew that wasn’t good and if she didn’t start eating it wouldn’t be long before she crossed over to the other side.

I couldn’t blame her though. She had been miserable the last few years. One of her youngest sons, who had been looking after her, had only been using her as an excuse to get money from the rest of the family members, and the worst part is that he and his wife used the money to cater to their own needs instead.

They said she needed a special diet but the last time I saw her she looked so scrawny. I couldn’t comprehend where they had been taking the money people had been constantly contributing for her upkeep.

Based on the things I had heard mom saying, she wanted to die. But as much as I encourage people not to give up on life, I understood her. I imagined she felt she was a burden. Who can blame her anyway? The last time mom and dad went to see her, her son and his wife were asking mom to take pics of her that would be used on her obituary.

Our great grams was old, but she could still hear. The thought that her son said that in her presence just goes to show how little they were concerned about her well-being. They wanted her gone. I’m imagining she picked up on those vibes and therefore felt she was better off dead.
I know, chances are even if she hadn’t died she wouldn’t have lasted for long, given her age and all, but I believe if she had been well taken care of, she would have seen a few more weeks, months even.

I pity her. She gave birth to children, most of who are successful now and even had successful grandchildren; but apparently all that was useless. She died a pauper’s death. Those who should have been responsible for her neglected her, only concerned about their own needs. They forgot she spent the better part of her life fending for them. From her, four generations sprouted, but she died lonely, and abandoned. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone; not even on my worst enemy.

She’s gone now, and I only pray she’s happy wherever she is. And as it is with my weird family, her death has brought some drama of its own. Once, dad’s mom summoned all her children and she told them whoever wants to give her flowers should give her when she is still alive. When dad told us what his mom had said, I couldn’t agree more with her.

What’s the point of crying at someone’s funeral if when s/he was alive one didn’t make an effort to show them a little love/care? Well it turns out she meant it, literally, because she took her mom an artificial rose flower before she died. I couldn’t believe it. Why would she give her old mom a flower when she was more in need of food?

When dad’s grandma was alive, she was denied any form of comfort by her well-to-do children. But now that she is gone, they’re dutifully giving her a ‘royal’ send-off; expensive casket and all. That just had me wondering, where was that money when she needed food? When she fell ill she was taken to some poorly equipped hospital, when they could have atleast had her treated by a professional.

One of her daughters, who is married to a politician, is the one in-charge of making the burial preparations. She has strictly set the dress code because seemingly, her politician hubby will be accompanied by some of his friends, who are also prominent politicians. The charade is sickening. They want to give people the impression dad’s grams was from a moneyed family, but when she was alive she was worse off than the average elderly woman.

I don’t want to sound judgemental, but the idea of splashing so much money around when it didn’t help her when she was alive feels like hypocrisy to me. What’s the point of burying her in an expensive casket, when many are the days she slept hungry?

Additionally, as planned, after laying her to rest, the moneyed family members will be gathering for lunch in a five star resort. I’m all for celebrating our great grams’ life- she lived for almost a century- but in this situation I’m left wondering if it’s her life people are celebrating or the thought that she is finally gone.

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.