Taking care of the elderly

Claire Fisher

“You can’t just leave me here!” an elderly man called to his daughter as she walked out the door after moving him into the senior living home. “I love you, and you can’t just leave me here like this,” he yelled.

I witnessed this scene while walking my grandma back to her room at the home after a day out and felt wracked with guilt. How could we just leave her there?

I understand that there are a lot of circumstances that lead to the decision to put a loved one in an assisted living home and many people struggle with the decision, but our generation needs to do a better job of taking care of the elderly. We need to save money and plan and prepare for the day our parents need to be supported, and we need to keep them more active in our lives and in society.

My grandma has played a large role in my life and I even lived with her for a while. She taught me to drive, cooked me dinner and allowed me to stay with her. Just like many of our parents, my grandma took care of me. Having to drop her off at the end of the day and not be there to help her is something I find extremely difficult.

While my grandma has a lot of love and support from my family and is visited and taken out on a regular basis, many of the people who stay in her home don’t get visited very much.

When our parents get older, we need to find some other way to make sure we’re active in taking care of them. Whether this means moving closer to our parents after graduation and making sure that we stay an active part of their lives or saving money so we can afford to have them come stay with us some day, we need to do something better.

I understand that taking care of a loved one, especially one who is sick, is extremely difficult. I understand that it takes time and effort and can be frustrating. I understand that many people work jobs that don’t allow them time to come home and take care of their parents, but our parents often took time off work to take care of us. We need to return the favor.

Being active with grandchildren, volunteering, being social and taking care of the home helps keep the mind active. Especially being involved with younger generations can prevent things like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Putting an aging population into a nursing home where they spend most of their time interacting with only each other is really only worsening the situation. We need to find a way to keep our parents out of nursing homes so they can lead more active lives for as long as possible.

Having elderly people remain active in society is not only good for the elderly person, but also good for society. Diversity in age brings diversity in perspective. We need people who have experience to be involved in our lives and part of things like local government. They may not understand technology as well as we do, but they know things like how to read cursive. Their knowledge and experience is more valuable than we might realize. We need to do our part to ensure that active society doesn’t end after the age of 65.

As our generation enters the working world and becomes adults, we need to make some changes regarding the way we treat elderly people as a society. If we don’t want to be left at the nursing home someday and if we want our parents to know how much their care means to us, we need to keep our parents active in our lives and take care of them when they need our support.