The last week was a very eventful eye opener. I realized for the first time that my husband too could have health problems. Touch wood he does not have hypertension or blood sugar. He has maintained his weight for the past 37 years and it has not crossed sixty kilograms ever. So I was naturally under the impression that with all the luxury ailments affecting me I was the one who needed to be enquired after and pampered. So, Imagine my shock when on our return from our morning walk, he, who was opening the door of our flat suddenly fell down without a warning and remained unconscious for... well, may be a minute. He had hurt the back of his skull and blood was trickling down. I was just a few steps behind him and when I rushed to him his eyes were upturned for a moment and even when he opened them he did not seem to recognize me. He smiled and asked whether it was six o’ clock already. Only when I shook him up did he remember that we had returned from our walk and that he had fallen down. He claims that he was fine when we climbed up and attributes his fall to gas in the stomach. I have no doubt that he was fine when we were returning since he was talking of Kalmadi and Kanimozhi and was indulging in his favorite Congress bashing on our way back. His 5’ 7” frame falling like a tree that is felled in one stroke, shocked me to the extent that I kept brooding over our future in Jamshedpur. In this otherwise pleasant city, medical facility and connectivity are not the best. My children in distant shores may not reach immediately even if they tried and what if one of us needed special medical attention? Those who wish to help us among our friends may not be able to move us out if the situation so demanded.
These were questions that kept haunting me when a second incidence shook me for a second time in the week. Relaxing during summer vacations was not destined for me I suppose. A neighbor, who lives in the floor above ours, suddenly took ill. She perhaps had a heat stroke since she spoke of having attended a house warming the previous afternoon. It was about 10:30 in the morning when we heard someone banging her door. We could hear her wailing from within. The door was bolted and she could not open it. My first thought was whether she had burnt herself. Soon there were four of us trying to coax her to open the door and all that the helpless woman could do was to scream incoherently. Thank God for the second rate material used, the door gave way and we entered. The lady had managed to wrap a night gown over her body and was writhing on the floor screaming like an animal in pain. It took us a while to understand that she was asking for glucose water. Her son was sent for and we rushed her to the hospital where she was administered glucose intravenously. She had loose motions in the morning and was severely dehydrated. She complained of severe chest pain too. Once she was in the hands of doctors, we relaxed. She is a widow having lost her husband when her son was seven years old. The boy is now 25 and is yet to find a suitable job. He is simple and naive unlike the street smart youngsters one sees these days. Luckily her son’s former tuition master is like family to them and she managed to ring him up for help. She is now better and has been discharged from hospital.
As if this was not enough a third incident had to take place that depressed me more than the other two. Mr. S mentioned in this post of mine had met with an accident a few days ago and the family planned to take him to Kolkata for further treatment. His daughter and son were sent for. The daughter works in Kolkata and had brought an uncle along to help her escort her father back. An auto - rickshaw had been sent for and they were about to leave when their son picked up a quarrel with his sister. Both parents were helpless when the boy flew into a rage and threatened to throttle the girl to death. The pleadings of the mother fell on deaf ears he just would not let go. The uncle finally managed to pacify him and gently took the father down. The mother also accompanied them but the boy stayed back threatening to burn the house down and he sounded as if he would do it. We could hear him scream for the next hour and cool down later.
These incidents indicate how helpless parents have become. We complain about not having any of our children in India but are those that have children at accessible distances any better? The boy mentioned in the third incident was my son’s play mate and grew up like any of the other children of his age. But the temper tantrums that I had earlier attributed to teen troubles persist even now. He is around thirty years old and instead of being a support to his younger sister is yet to take up family responsibility. I can imagine how helpless his parents must feel.
Society too has changed. The widow had to ring up her son’s tuition master living around two kilometers away for help. This only shows the kind of isolated lives we lead. Social visits have become a thing of the past. Neighbors do not share their problems with each other. It was my servant who told me that Mr. S who was on a two wheeler had been hit by a speeding vehicle and has sustained a head injury. Were it not for her information I might have taken show of temper as the regular thing that happened in households with a hot headed son. I do wonder whether the senior citizen’s home would be a better alternative to deal with the aloofness that has become part of society?
What a frightening series of events ! I hope you have been to a doctor and had a complete checkup done for your husband, and investigated the reason for the fall. Something detected early on can be nipped in the bud .
I too have heard of various stories of senior citizens living by themselves. My parents did that, and after my mother passed away, my father stayed alone, but adamantly refused to come and stay with us. I think lives of senior citizens today, are still in a state of flux; they want to be independent, but would also like to depend on someone. Maybe a generation needs to go by for a different social order.
I often feel that old age homes should be there, nice ones. The younger generation has its own priorities and as we grow increasingly feeble ... we need some place where we can live with dignity
The scene that you described is frightening indeed.
Being away from one's parents is a scary thought.
Now that India has a huge aging population, problems like the one's you mentioned are going to be seen commonly. Neighbors not knowing each other is also becoming very common. I thought it was more of a city thing. But I am surprised to read that even in small towns, lives of people are changing.
Padma - how is he now ? This is quite frightening . Please get an MRI done -ASAP .
what a nightmare! I hope your husband is ok now. Did you find out what actually happened? Maybe low sugar?
Hope your husband is fine now and all his reports are normal. The incidents you've shared here are scary. There are many of my generation who are reluctant to stay with their parents even if they can, reason being their own freedom will be curtailed.On the other hand, I know few parents whose children want them to stay with them, but they refuse as they don't want to lose their independence. Either way, it is a difficult situation and families (parents and children) should plan it out in advance.
OMG! I hope your husband is fine now and there is nothing to worry...
Thats really scary! I hope your husband went to the doctor immediately & is okay now.
We live in Dubai & recently had our relatives-2 older couples & their youngster kids(just out of college & joined work)staying with us for a week on their stopover from the US. Nothing at all to do with them being from the US, just that I havent really seen this 'hands off' & emotionally detached approach so closely before. They were overwhelmed even when I did routine things like cooking proper meals, serving them second helpings, or giving them a bottle of water or umbrella when they went out in the heat. They would discuss the monetary terms & conditions of every outing with each other in advance, were very clear about 'yours' & 'mine', & both the parents & children didnt like any 'invasions'(whether of privacy, finance or space) of any kind from each other. Every gesture from one was treated like a favour to be returned later by the other..Great formula if you're running a company, but hardly conducive to a cohesive family unit!
I can see the merits of this kind of thing. Were all in the pursuit of money & all it brings. However too much of this stuff kills our emotions & affects our ability to love. When you dont FEEL, why would you DO??
I hope your husband is Ok now.
I keep searching for senior citizen housing with good standards...they are not very popular now but given the scenario, soon many will opt for that.
Suranga:Thanks for your concern. My husband is fine. Nothing worrisome detected. As you say, our generation is a confused one. We value our independence and prefer a civil interaction of the 'Are you ok? I am ok' sort. Children too seem to prefer it that way. The family squabbles of yesteryears is missing so also the warmth that was part of a relationship. While we want to lead our lives as per our terms we also want children to be available when necessary. I think one has to realize that both things are not possible. BUt ...and there is a big but there ... we distance ourselves from our neighbors too and that I feel is worse.
phoenixritu:The younger generation has its priorities but is not the older generation responsible in a way? We were ambitious for their career and future and felt puffed up when they reached dizzy heights. Is it fair to expect them to come crashing down when it suits us? Half the parents in India including me are leading lonely lives here because we are unable to adjust to the lives our children lead in foreign shores. Once a choice is made it is only advisable to be available to others like us at the time of need instead of complaining about the inability of children to be available when required.
Anu:Too many similar incidents within a span of 10 days is scary. It made me think of the kind of kives we lead and wonder whether our parents with a more practical approac were better.
Anon:Small town or big people are becoming self centered. I seem to know many by face or as casual acquaintances but at the time of need I can't think of anyone who would pitch in and help. The fault is partly mine I feel,
Mallika:Thanks for asking. He is better. Nothing to worry.
The Kid:I thought you had given up reading my blog. Nice to hear from you. Thanks for your concern. He is better now and nothing to worry.
Neha:Hubs is better thank you. But I certainly don;t want a repeat of the incident. It was a shock to me since he is the healthier of the two of us. My problems are chronic but his was not. And that makes it more scary.
As you rightly point out both parents and children are responsible for the aloofness that has set in. I would love to have my children here and they would welcome me to their homes too. But both groups start longing to get back to their own set up after the first fortnight. Lifelong adjustments become difficult.
R's Mom:Thanks for asking. He is fine nothing to worry.
poornima:One does not have to be from the US- the Indian society is changing too. There was a time when parental property was considered an incentive to parental care by the children. Nowadays children begin at a much higher level financially so even that incentive does not seem to work.I've heard of a mother who was dead for two days before neighbors missed seeing her. The son was sent for and he came for a week and asked an agent to sell the house and transfer the proceedings to his account after deduction his fee. When asked whether he wished to check for any item that he wished to keep he said that he was not interested. But he did take the trouble of evaluating the house and furniture lest the agent cheated on him. This happened 10 years back in our small town and was a shocking news to most of us.
Renu: Thanks, he is doing fine.With neighbors hardly interacting senior citizen's home are going to be preferred. Let us accept it with grace.
I agree HHG, it has nothing to do with the US. In fact as Ive heard & seen, Indian families can be even more cut throat. Just trying to make a larger point about the older generation also setting the expectations & being an example..
Dear HHG! That was quite traumatic. Anyway, relieved to know that your husband is now fine and there is nothing to worry about.
Glad to know that your husband is alright. It must have been a huge fright for you. And the other incidents are so scary too. That is one of the reasons why we plan to move back to India next year. My parents want to be independent too, but at least, if need be, we can reach them faster if we are in India, rather than here, in the UK.
Certainly a series of events to make one think on this subject!
Times have changed. Priorities have changed, views on independence have changed.
Life expectancy has also risen, which is a good thing, but which adds a new dimension to the problem.
I agree, senior citizens' homes should be considered as one solution, if necessary.
Seniors' homes need not be like the ones depicted in Indian movies of some decades ago. They can be cheerful places for the elderly to live assisted lives, but still with some independence.
HHG - I am visiting your site for the first time I think although I have seen your name in some blog post comments. I am glad your husband is OK now. This topic you have written about is something that I relate to (and Mad momma recently wrote about it too) from the pov of a caretaker. I want to write a post about it, hopefully soon. You seem to have a very balanced perspective on this matter - lucky for your children. At least you won't make them feel guilty. I really hope you and your husband keep good health so you can carry on with your own lives peacefully without having to depend on any one else.
Poornima:No problem is one sided. The other side make a contribution only then does it become a problem. Parents like it when their kids back answer grand parents. The child later does a repeat to the parents too. Family values have taken a beating due to self interest and we all have contributed to it.
Ardra:thank you for your concern. He is fine now.
Smitha:True if children relocate to India one can reach faster if need be.
Manju:Welcome here, although I regularly read your inputs at Suranga's blog and you are right about Senior ciizen's homes being a viable alternative. I've been thinking on those lines too mainly because of immediate attention being available and the problem of domestic help getting resolved.
noon:Welcome here.Please give me the link to mad momma's post. I'd like to read the perpective of a care taker. And when you write on the topic I'd like to read that too. Only yesterday a gentleman known to me was talking about the problems he faces at his daughter's place and I saw no difference between daughter and daughter in law. It is one generation pitched against another. Will write about it soon.
I'm glad to know your husband is alright now. Such a scary sequence of events you describe here.
Some cousins of mine sold their ancestral property in a small town, and have all bought flats in the same complex in Gurgaon, where, while retaining their privacy, they are all their for each other in their old age. We all need to work out such solutions for ourselves, I guess.
dipali:You know my cousin suggested exactly the same thing. He even suggested a common kitchen with a maharaj to cook. We all should start looking out for such options and arrangements so that children can be at peace with themselves.
So glad your husband is fine now ... it must have been really scary for you.
CA:He is fine thanks for asking. yes it was scary thinking of any health issues that may have cropped up.
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