"My mother in law will not leave till she swallows her only surviving son"...............
"I need to get on with my life. I cannot be responsible for my mother all my life. I plan to put her in a home and accept my promotion with a transfer"...............
Old age and the available medical technology to prolong life have evoked such comments from the kith and kin of old people who live but have no life. I do not know whether their caretakers ought to be blamed because in most of these cases children have tried their best to look after them but are reacting to the frustration that sets in when one feels helpless.
I remember having a talk with my husband a few months back. An elderly relative had just passed on and his family felt relieved. The affection was there alright but the death gave them a much desired freedom to plan a holiday or pay a visit to their children in distant shores. I had then expressed my opinion in favor of mercy killing in my own case.
"I'd be pained to be the cause of any inconvenience to my children. So in the case of an incurable illness I wouldn't want anyone to prolong my life with medication. I'd be glad to go."
My husband made a joke of it.
"The police would arrest me in that case and you'd be unable to leave on your heavenly journey in peace."
"I am serious. I would want you all to let me go."
There was pain in my husband's voice when he said-
"Is it that easy? What if it was me that is terminally ill? Would you then let me die? I too would not want to be a burden to anyone."
His words set me thinking. I had not thought of it from anyone else's point of view. But what then is the solution? It is so common to see people leading a healthy and sometimes not so healthy life even after they've entered their nineties. Their children are retired pensioners with as many if not more health problems. Medical expenses keep soaring and the next generation in all probability has moved to distant places in search of a satisfying career with a good pay package. A weekly phone call and an annual visit is all that they have time for. This is where I feel senior citizen's homes help. This is no longer a home for abandoned parents. This is a place where one can perhaps get the care that an ageing parent deserves – so what if one has to pay for it? In these days of unreliable domestic help, would not an arrangement that takes care of cooking and cleaning be a viable option? I know of a couple relocating to a senior citizen's home in Pondicherry after retirement taking with them their mothers aged 85 and 82. They sold their house in Jamshedpur and invested the money prudently to ensure adequate monthly returns and now lead a peaceful life. They visit their children and relatives as and when they feel like it and their mothers are looked after by the staff in the home. They receive visitors too and do not feel the strain because they have the option of ordering food from the mess and both groups are happy. More than other things medical attention is readily available with 24 hour ambulance service and a tie up with hospitals ensures that they are treated immediately. Under the present scenario I feel that one should consider this a possible option along with that of moving in with their children at some point of time.
And they had better remember that adjustments have to be made whatever their choice.