26 July 2006

The Fifth Commandment Strikes Back

Interesting story in the Wall Street Journal today about immigration and caretakers of the elderly:
Immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, make up a disproportionate share of those who care for the elderly -- and the need for such workers is set to explode in the coming years.
If you know me, you know I hate to pretend the existence of some prior Golden Age of something or other. I prefer to critically identify each era's strengths and weaknesses, so I'm not going to pretend that this is a purely modern problem.

Nonetheless, I wish modern America was better at honoring our parents. All too often, we move out of the house at 18, accept expensive weddings,gifts, and whatever else we can get out of Mom and Dad, and then shuttle them off to the nursing home (and conveniently forget to visit) when it becomes something of a challenge to care for them.

Certainly, there are people who are better off in assisted lilving situations, and most of us do have economic opportunities that would be severely limited if we became our own parents' caretakers. But I wonder if we'd be better off sacrficing a little bit of financial gain for ensuring our parents comfortable, enjoyable final years in our own care.

Maybe, if the flow of immigrants is stemmed, we will be forced to consider more options besides nursing homes? And perhaps we will see we should have been doing so all the time?


Anonymous said...

Good thoughts, sir. I completely agree.

mouthybitch said...

Or we move out at 15, our parents give us nothing (or borrow money from us, as happened to my last roomie) and we really, really prefer not to go home at all. Because they treat us badly.

I form holiday parties for those of us who won't (or can't, because we've been abandoned) go home for the holidays and networks of people who do for one another what their families will not do for them (like help with groceries.)

Maybe they deserve to end up in someone else's care. Maybe the best place for them is a nursing home. If you treat your children badly, can you expect them to provide care for you?

I visited a lot of nursing homes as a kid. They're depressing as all hell, but I wonder how many of those people earned the life they were living.

luaphacim said...

Thanks for your perspective, mb. I think it's really sad that a lot of parents fail to love and provide for their kids as they ought to, but I wonder about the ones who do their best and still end up getting the shaft in their old age... it doesn't seem right.