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I like the idea of calling these place homes. I just don't think that anybody sees it as a home.
They Call It a Home
If a home was a place that had none of your belongings, other than stuff that sticks to the wall, it's a home. But no family sees these places as their parents' home. Nobody grew up with fond memories of their parents chasing them around the oxygen machine, and the hydration machine feeling like a lawnmower running in the house all day. I don't know many that grew up with fond memories of Max and Bernie, dad's first roommates who always had their tush showing, who died.
I walk through to my Mom and I see these people without family in the homes and it hurts my heart. You stuck this old family member that raised you, changed your diapers, did your laundry for twenty years and dealt with you as a teenager, in the facility. There is no way you were easier to deal with as a teenager, than your dad who is too weak to argue.
If it's their home, then visit. You stuck them there, the least you can do is be there for them. But you are not. These people are alone. What's worse, many of them are just staring at ceilings, with not even the ability to turn on their TVs, to keep their mind off the fact their kids don't visit, with nobody looking out for them, forgotten by their families. This sounds like rebuke. Good.
Warning: There is a lot of reprimanding in the next couple thoughts. So, only read this if you're a child who feels bad about not caring enough. If you care about not caring, that might make you a child who cares. I don't know. I just figure that if you care about not caring, you'll like being rebuked.
Getting Rid Of The Problem
Families drop them off and leave them. It's like those boarding schools, where you get rid of your old person.
They chuck the problem out of the house. 'Dad's been coughing too much. I can't enjoy dinner like this. What can we do?... How can we get rid of him and not feel bad about it? Where can we drop these people off?... We'll drop him off at one of those homes. They call them homes. He loves homes.' Now, the family can live in joy, without the old people chaching (with a Jewish use of the Hebrew 'chach') all over.
So, you put them in a 'home.' You kick them out of the house and put them in a home. They call it a 'home' to make you feel better about kicking them out of the home. And then you never visit the home.
Are They Homes
They call it a home, but you know it's not. You just want the old problem out. Any sale would work. The family loves the pitch, wheeling around eighty year old dad to, 'Here's the home that dad's going to be moving to... No. We don't have room for the big flat screen. One of the kids should take that as an inheritance. It's fine. We'll provide a TV. It's eighteen inches and fifteen feet from the bed... Your dad's new dining room is shared with these thirty people she never met... They all chach during service. That's the standard lighting. Bright. That's our motto. "Keep the lights bright at all times." And here's the bathroom. Shared with that guy... And leave everything somewhere else. There's not enough room in the home. His home is that side of the room... Throw it out. Trust me. And Shasta. We don't do Coke. Shasta Cola and Hallmark. That's what we do. If your dad likes Bingo, he's going to love his new home. And best part of it all, everybody coughs a lot.' The family is saying, 'Thank Gd. That's it. We don't have to hear the cough anymore. Take him. He'll make a lot of new friends. They can chach together.' They're happy that the administration at the home understands how annoying the hacking cough is.
'Here's your new home with your roommate that is going to be mooning you all day.' 'Here's your new home with none of your stuff... Where is it? We inherited it.' 'But i'm alive.' 'The big flat screen is in our house. We made a theater.'
The families know it's not a new home. That's why they never show up.
Call It Whatever You Want
How about we call it a facility and treat it like a home?! A home where you visit for regularly, because you want to see your parents? And you still love them, even though they already wrote the will?
Be there. It's wrong to not be there. If it truly was your parents' home, you would visit. People visit their parents' home. So now you have a home, owned by Medicare, with a bunch of hack coughing helpless people, staring at a ceiling. It's like a town of people with really bad lung control. A city of refuge for people who have too much mucus and nose hair.
Kibud Av vEim is Lost
When Is Kibud Av vEim, Honoring Your Parents, done? When you can't get anything from them. That's when you drop them off. It's shocking to me that people end the honoring of their parents when their parents can't support them anymore. It usually happens right after the parents lose their job. They're coughing in the office and they lose their job. It's downhill from there.
Anger towards having to see parents happens before the cough. Every married couple complains when parents come to visit. It's American tradition to complain about parents visiting. 'Oh. They're coming. Now we have to clean, and they're going to get in our way. They're going to want to take the kids to soccer. Embarrassing. Shoot. Got to make the beds too.' Yes. They are going to get in your way. You were in their way the first twenty years of your life. They didn't sleep for fifteen of those. After that they questioned whether their child would ever get out of the house, but they hosted you. They didn't know if they wanted you, but they kept you in the house, and loved you. The least you can do is have them over for a week, and throw some linens in the wash.
Chas vShalom, God forbid, they become frail. Now, they might be in your house for two weeks. Two weeks of phlegm. So, you chuck them in a 'home.'
If you feel like I am talking to you, and this bothers you, good. I am sitting right across from a girl who hasn't been visited in ten years. Her family stuck her in here, and Spanish music has apparently not changed since Louis Miguel.
American society is built to make you feel good about not having to take care of the frail. How do you do that? Send them away. If you don't see them, you don't feel bad. The key is to forget about them. Then, you don't feel like you abandoned them.
If they're there, you've got to now treat it as their home.
What is Kibud Av VaEim
Honoring your parents is realizing what they have done for you. It's thanking them for bringing you into this world, for life. Maybe I'm not selling this well. I can understand why a lot of people hate their parents.
How Do I Know It's Their Home
Older people like to downsize. It's the final downsizing move. You end up with two shirts and three pants of your own. You get to take five pictures to hang; four must be wallet sized.
Other than downsizing, I don't know where the rest of these people's stuff is. I can't imagine the families care enough to put their parents' stuff in storage. Maybe they divvy it out.
Now, it's their home. It's the only choice they have. Their bed is there. They've got a professional cleaning crew. They've got a pair of pants that now goes higher on the waist. It's a really small apartment with no fridge. Everything they own is there, in a dresser and on the wall. You took the rest of it.
They have new family known as aides.
The Homes Should Take In the Old People
The facilities should be adoption agencies. This will clear the air. You drop off your old family member who coughs a lot, because it's an annoying hacking cough, at these new homes. Your parents will be fine with you letting them go, after screaming at them for the past year and a half, for being them and old. Instead of nursing facilities, you drop them off at one of the Old Person Adoption Agencies for Abandoned Ninety Year Olds.
Might as well put the old people up for adoption. Old people adoption would be a great business. If you put up your old dad for adoption, you can probably make good money off it. The nursing facilities are already making money off it. This way, you can make money too.
It's good money. These nursing homes have already figured out how to get the adoption money from Medicare. It's just a matter of making it clear that you, the children, don't want them anymore. If your parents loved you, they would be fine with you putting them in these foster homes for people who like to wear gowns.
Yes. I feel extremely bad for these people I see abandoned at these facilities for 363 days a year; the days that aren't Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the February 29th when it's there. If you just put your parents up for adoption by new children, it would be better,
The Aides Are Sweet Children
The good ones, I mean. They're better than kids. Who wouldn't want to have an aide as a child? The aides are the ones your parents see daily. It's just a matter of making it official.
Nursing aides as children would be better for your parents. It would make mom and dad feel good to know their children are loving people. Mom and dad deserve to have children who care about them.
Don't End Their Life Early
Once you take them for that visit to the home, mom and dad know that's the end. Mom and dad sitting there while you talk about their future. When people start talking about you, in front of you, you know that life is going down hill.
And then you try to sell them on it. It never sounds good. 'Look mom. That's Thelma. You remember her from shul twenty years ago. She's still alive. Ninety eight and still kicking. She's going to be right down the hall from you.' 'The administrator said that there are other people who chach here. You'll be around pears who can't talk.'
Even just saying 'administrator in your home' sounds off. You might as well tell them, 'We are giving you over to the State now.'
How can we mend this new 'home' conundrum? Be there.
For better or worse, it's their home. Treat it like that. If you can't handle it, there is a problem. If you have an issue seeing frail people with poor lung control, don't put that on mom and dad. If you can't stand people having to see people lick their fingers in order to turn pages, don't put that on other people.
Be there and make it good times. How? That's going to be hard to figure out. Start by learning how to love Bingo.
If you're not going to be there, be honest. Call it what it is. Abandonment. A home of abandonment. If it was a child you were throwing into a group setting, because you couldn't stand cleaning their diaper, people would question you as a human. I really like the adoption idea. 'Your biological family wants to visit you.' That sounds good.
If none of that works for you, live with them. Yes. Live with them. Make it your new life. Get used to watching Hallmark and Golden Girls. Make them happy and have the news playing all day in your den.
Tomorrow is going to be about being there. If you really feel this home of shared dining room with thirty other people that don't keep Kosher is your dad's new home, then be there. Share dinner with him.
And it's no different than people with disabilities. Families drop them off too.
Disclaimer: If you truly hate your parents, and they abandoned you, I get it. Maybe these homes are filled with really nasty people who deserve kids that don't care about them.
***For a Refuah Sheleyma for חיה נחה בת ריבה לאה and all who need a speedy recovery, and shared laughter with their family and friends.
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Health and Healing
Humor, laughter and a positive outlook in the hard times. This includes Torah thoughts by Rabbi Kilimnick and humor from within.
With nursing facilities closed, this guy is trying to figure out why his kids are trying to break into the room, scoping it out. He's asking when his kids turned into a bunch of stalkers.
(Photo: The Guardian)