Thursday, April 05, 2007

Is it honouring our parents if we sent them to old folks home?

In whatever we do,they must always be in our hearts

With increasing standard of living the life expectancy of the average Malaysian has prolonged. Today our parents are healthier and live longer than before. This has put greater strain on us to care for the special needs of those advanced in age. There is a greater strain on our financial and physical resources to take care of their physical and mental health.

Caring for our elderly parents has become a problem these days when both husband and wife have to work to make ends meet. In addition to that we have to provide for the needs of the children which are increasing tremendously over the years. Our preoccupation with these has left every member in the family to be lonely, husband, wife, the children, and grand parents.

There is no doubt that we have to give priority to our own spouse and children in this fast moving world. At the same time we also have a duty towards our aged parents. Some of them may be healthy while others may suffer from various illnesses or even be bed-ridden.

Very often it is impossible for us to be present physically to care for them especially those who are very old and infirm. We have no choice but to send them to an old folk’s home where their basic needs and nursing care are available. In our Asian culture sending our parents to old folks home is considered a despicable and ungrateful act. Is it really so?

There are 2 main needs of an elderly person, companionship and medical. No single individual can provide both. On the other hand a properly run old folk’s home, staffed with doctors and nurses, may be better poised to provide both these needs reasonably well. Unfortunately such a home is hard to come by and if it does it is often beyond the means of many.

Sending our aged parents to old folks home should not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. What is important is to provide them with the best we can and give them the reassurance that we are there for them when they need us. We must remember they are our responsibility and our alone and we must never even try to run away from that.

Honouring our parents is not just providing food and shelter but being a companion to rid them of the loneliness and fear that grips them in the twilight years of their lives.

There are many aged parents who are captives in their own homes. There may be many in the family but yet the elderly are left lonely and despised as no one has the time to spare for them. Even the young show disrespect to them as they see them as a burden.

Our treatment of our elderly parents, like our children, must always be guided by our love for them. Wherever they may be, in our homes or in an old folk’s home, they must always be in our hearts. If they, whom we can see, hear and touch are not in our hearts then we will be lying when we say God, whom we cannot see, hear or touch, is in our hearts.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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