When sudden ill health strikes our elderly relatives we must make a choice
Early one morning in December 2012 my family received a call from my mother’s parents’ home to say my grandma had had a heart attack. A stroke that followed then left her paralysed. My grandparents lived alone in a big house in a village in the Mymensingh district of Bangladesh. Three of my uncles and a number of cousins lived nearby but none were prepared to take care of the old couple.
My mother, however, did not hesitate; she brought my grandma to live in our city home in Dhaka. She also tried to bring my grandpa but he would not agree to leave his village home. Just a year later he passed away from loneliness and a lack of care.
My grandma can’t move and finds it very difficult to speak. We don’t have any outside help in our home and every morning I wash my grandma’s clothes while my Mom feeds her and gives her a shower. It is tough but we do not tire of caring for her.
My grandparents’ plight is a common one in Bangladeshi society. Many of us don’t like our elderly relatives, even our parents, when they become old because they can no longer work and contribute. We bring pets into our homes and love and care for them but dislike caring for elderly family members and prefer to send them to aged care centres.
Personally, I believe we should be prepared to care for those close to us when they get old or sick and cannot care for themselves. We shouldn’t forget that where we are now is thanks to them. Our parents do the best they can for us — they raise us with care; they teach us right from wrong. Even if we don’t think they were good parents we should be prepared to be good people and do the right thing by them.
In their old age, they want to stay with their loved ones, not in aged care centres. We shouldn’t think only of our own selfish comforts. I realise some young people don’t have the financial resources to care for their elders, or live too far away because of their work, but they should still do their best.
We won’t always see eye to eye with our elders but they have valuable life experience to pass on and we should strive to keep them included in our lives. It is good for us and it is good for them.
I believe the elders in our society deserve respect and caring for them is one of our foremost responsibilities.
By Asma Hosna
A practicing human. A mother’s daughter. A devoted soul to the Eternity. A hymnist of universal love.
Read more from Asma on her personal blog.