Monday, June 27, 2011

Nuclear families/Elder care and such matters

These topics are being discussed across blogs by IHM,Sangi,R's Mom and everywhere I left my comments. Somehow every time it felt incomplete. So here's my very personal take on these issues.

I will start from 2 generation back when as a child/teenager I saw my grand mom taking care of my bedridden grandfather for 2 years - all by herself with no external help. And the effect of all that physical strain took its toll quite early on her resulting in Arthritis and she was bed ridden herself for nearly 6 months when Mom and Dad took care of her. All the time. Dad even quit his temporary job so he could be there for her all the time. He would only leave her for a maximum of a couple of hours to take care of everyday matters like bills and grocery - keeping all that she might want next to her. Mom still works and she would come back home and handle all cooking and running of the house. And they too did it without any external help.  Every time the topic of hiring a trained help came into picture Granny out rightly refused that she wouldn't be comfortable. So no help was ever hired. It was always Mom and Dad.

And I've seen that it did take a toll on their personal life - they hardly went out to meet people and friends almost never came home so as to not disturb granny. Its only now that they have begun to have a much active life...

Now in my case - I've lived with ILs for the first 5 yrs of my life until we built our home and had Chuktu. And all those years I never had to do much. I pretty much did the same things I did at Mom's too and MIL didnt expect much from me either. Did we have differences and arguments- Of course! We are 2 different individuals who have grown up differently and have different ways and ideas. So arguments are bound to happen - the same kind that I have with my own mother too!

We live in our own house now and ILs/Parents visit us every weekend or we go over. They get to spend time with their grandson and it is an outing for them while we get the sunday to relax. We never expected either of the parents to take care of our child as we realised that they have their own lives/health issues and problems. So, it would be unfair on our part to expect that. We are also close enough to both sets that we will be available for any emergency at any point in time. They pitch in too - they are just a phone call away aanytime. When one of us is unwell/when hubby travels out station - either set of parents are willing to come and spend the night/day with us taking care of the little one too. Do they give us advise on how to bring him up/run the house/handle finances - you bet! Which parent wouldn't? They still think we are immature/lazy to handle everything. On our part we listen and consider any advise we feel fit - others we just let go - that's the freedom we have...

There are days when I come home tired with a cranky baby to take care of when I wish that I were living with ILs/Parents and there was someone else to handle everything. And there are days when I come home early full of energy and cook something that the hubby likes/just order pizza/eat out/take the little one out to play, or when friends/cousins decide to drop in when I appreciate the freedom we have in living by ourselves. So its the closest win-win situation we can be in and it works well for all of us.

Would I accommodate either set of parents in my house if the need arose - ABSOLUTELY and undoubtedly yes! No second thoughts about it. We have made it very clear that they are welcome at any point in time to live with us and they have let us know that as long as they can manage on their own - they will. But we would gladly welcome any of them home to live with us for the rest of their lives.

OK, now for the tougher question - what if (God Forbid) any of them needs the 100% round the clock attention? Would either hubby or I give up our jobs? Would we do all that I saw my own parents do? Or would it be OK for us to hire trained help? Emotionally - I would love to do everything for both sets of parents - yes - I said, both sets of parents (My ILs are really wonderful people - and yes my decision IS based on that fact - You wouldn't want to do much for someone you don't care/never cares for you - right? Thats only human I think) Anyway - but practically we might not be able to do it - we have our own life - jobs/child rearing to do and if it needs any special attention its only practical to get a trained help. Yes, I would open up my home to any trained help who can take care of the parents much better than me only because they are 'trained' to do it! I might have all the love and affection for them but I might not know what is expected of me! Also, to put my life on hold but have a dissatisfaction because I did it, is also not an ideal situation for the care giver and the patient as well.

Finally - when my day comes - I've been telling hubby that we need to think about it too. This would be ideal - to live in a retirement home which has all amenities like groceries/medical facility/everyday help for cooking and cleaning/driver and of course security (How many cases of the old being robbed these days!). Who said I need to live a life of a hermit drowned in spirituality after 60/70?! I would love to have as active a life as possible as long as possible. And when/if (I hope not) a day comes when I cant do my own basic things a hired help too - why depend on the son/DIL (Ah! That word) to provide all that for me? If planned properly hopefully by the time I AM 60 I would be able to afford all those! Of course its going to be a long long journey till then too...

Life's never been easy for anyone - has it? 


  1. I think a well planned retirement and old age makes a lot of sense for everybody. Elder care is tougher than baby care, and requires a lot of time, energy and patience, those who can afford hired help, are able to provide much better care, and also continue to live their own lives.

  2. You make all my points for me - that there needs to be a good relationship to start with, ability to adjust on all sides and that the younger generation is not all bad apples looking to shunt their parents/in-laws out of home and hearth.

    Very good for you - this is an arrangement that will work well for all concerned. :-D

  3. I loved your post :) I think I have a lot of faith in putting money into an old age home..not because I have a daughter or anything..generally because I feel, if I am hale and hearthy I will go and stay withher whenever she needs me, otherwise, I will stay and enjoy myself in the company of other people of my age..and oh! what spiritual at 60..didnt you read Shobhaa at sixty...60 is the new 40 heheehe :)

  4. @IHM - "Elder care is tougher than baby care" - Completely agree - Babies dont have opinions!
    But its not easy to opt for a retirement home either - I think its the conditioning that the children dont care/love their parents enough so they are having to stay in such facilities - that conditioning has to change...

    @Sangi - :-) Thanks! Like I said it would be an ideal situation - with no love lost between the parents and children - it will only become a matter of duty - only because they brought you up...

    @R's Mom - Babe! Agree with you - how about you and me partying until the wee hours for our 60th Bday? - Date? :-P
    And - This was soo not about having a girl or boy child at all - have a post on that in my head too - watch out! :-)

  5. RS and RM Please include me also. I am looking for girls night out at 60. Great fun isn't it :)

  6. Very well written! I admire -"I might have all the love and affection for them but I might not know what is expected of me!" It does not make sense to expect from me what my parents must have done out of compulsion yet willingly... I might as well do some things better than my parents!

    About hiring trained help, I find no harm in it coz if we ourselves opt to look after the elders sacrifing job and our normal life, in the long run it might as well seem like a burden and our frustrations might show. Amount of patience each individual has differs and the way each one handles situation should be left to their choice and we better not generalize.

    My MIL too expresses her worries saying "Who will take care of you in your old age? Wish you had a son!" I tell her that "I'm glad I have two daughters. Even if I had a son I would have preferred to stay in an Old Age Home, pursue some hobbies which I wasn't able to till then due to lack of time. I like my own space and would like to live on my own terms. Also it would be better to let kids be on their own and pitch in whenever they NEED us."

    Count me in to the 60th Bday party. I would like to join in too. Lolz!


  7. Loved your blog. You will have a daily visitor in me .

  8. I like this party can celebrate with me a few years earlier and I can be around for your 60 and tell you how it feels from up wherever I am?! God willing, you will kick it up and dance the hardest at 60! :-D

  9. Congratulations :) This post in one of the winners of 'Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards - 2011' (TRBA 2011). We would like to create an ebook with all the winning entries in 47 categories on Feminism and Gender Issues in India (and one category on Animals Rights). Please do let us know if you are fine with your winning post/s being included in this ebook. ( Please click here to let us know).

  10. lovely post! And I agree with every thoughts of yours here!