I’m a man, 46, born into a large extended family of uncles and aunts. They were very close and we children had to show respect but also knew we were loved by all.
The older ones have died including both my parents. Now there’s only one uncle left, age 81, considered the patriarch.
He’d been living alone since his wife (whom he’d married when they were both just 19) passed away.
He was truly lost and we were all relieved when his son insisted that he live with him and his wife. Their kids are grown, they have a large home, so there was plenty of space.
When any of the family visited my uncle there, we always brought his favourite dishes, but also cake, fruit, and wine for his son and wife.
I was naturally very upset when I heard that my uncle’s wife insisted he live elsewhere. When the words, “seniors’ home” were mentioned, most of us were shocked.
How could a man who influenced us all regarding our values and family bonds be parceled out to live with strangers when there was space and money to keep him among his immediate relatives?
I’ve been told that my cousin’s wife insisted on either choosing an institutional “home” or that some other relatives take him. I heard that she said that she needed emotional space in her own home.
Eventually, a different married son and his married sister have (both in their late-50s) agreed to share the care and keeping of their father. It’s working out so far.
But I can’t forgive that cousin’s wife, nor her husband who claims she badgered him so much, he had to agree that his father move.
How can families better prepare for the changing needs of their elderly parents?
It’s a thoughtful question that not enough people explore or discuss ahead.
Most seniors will insist that they want to stay in their own homes. But when they’re older, frail, living alone, they certainly need some supports whether from family or another arrangement.
Most important is the need for open discussion between the elder and relatives. Even if family finances are limited, regular visits and checking up on a housebound person’s health and available food, is still a necessity.
But when resources are greater and there are people waiting to learn what’s in a family member’s will, those same people have a moral duty.
They must help that person live with comforts, visits, attention to their health and social needs, including them in conversations and accompanying them to medical appointments.
Readers’ Commentaries Regarding the person with social anxiety repeatedly intruded upon by a talkative gossip (August 30):
Reader #1 - “Working in a very busy environment meant that I had little time for chatting. But one of my coworkers continually talked and interfered with my work if I were unlucky enough to ask or request something.
“I didn’t want to be rude by interrupting but one day I reached my limit and just walked off. Yet she was as “friendly” and talkative as ever.
“I then realized she was talking obsessively not really caring about anyone listening so I never felt badly about ignoring the stream of words after that.”
Reader #2 – “I’ve known forever that I’m an introvert. I do not have social anxiety and maybe this letter-writer doesn't either.
“Don't label or criticize yourself because you’re not an extrovert. The world has plenty of them.”
FEEDBACK More regarding people who are always late (August 11):
Reader – “People repeatedly 10-to-20 minutes late for appointments may have difficulty organizing themselves. Or don’t grasp how annoying their “loose” approach to time is to others.
“But being hours or even a day (!) late is big-time controlling and not-so-passive aggression. I suspect that one reader’s seemingly enlightened understanding of such behaviour is really just masking her fear of confrontation.
“Another reader’s feedback had it right: You don’t let people repeatedly disrespect your time. They can be given the benefit of the doubt a few times.
“But by the third time — if you’ve clearly stated a firm time, and there’s been no message during the wait period to explain failure to appear — you have every right and the obligation to other more considerate guests, to carry on with your plans.
“The sister-in-law’s threats to attend no future events, are likely a welcome subtraction to such gatherings.”
Tip of the day:
Every family knows that its elders may someday need help. A gentle family discussion and plan can reassure all.