Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A note on eldercare by those without their own parented families

I wrote a post yesterday on my main (“BillBoushka”) blog relating the shift in our moral values away from obvious individualism, but I thought I’d add a more specific comment here as to eldercare.

During the past couple of years of my mother’s life (as documented on the main blog under the “memorial” label) I felt that I was coming under a lot of “social” pressure to make her care the only focus of my life.  I found it very objectionable for anyone to be able to try to “monopolize” me.

Yet, I also realized here how much adult “lifestyle” matters.  To wit, if I “had” a wife and children of my own, aging parents would fit into the “domain” for which I was responsible. But that’s not how my life went. I’m well aware of the challenges in more “traditional” families faced by the so-called “sandwich generation”.  But I could not offer a social infrastructure to give her more sense of value than what she could generate within herself, which declined as she declined.  It was painful to watch.

It’s connected to sexual orientation to the extent that in my generation, a “gay identity” meant also “single” because “marriage” was off the table and relationships tended to be serially monogamous at best.  Relationships satisfied the self and the partners (even with respect to the “Polarity Theory”); they did not directly serve the needs of sustaining a larger society or other generations. 

Our society has, as part of its democratic values, taken on the responsibility for extending life as long as possible, often at great cost. And many procedures, such as open heart surgery or coronary bypass, can be given at later ages than before, with reasonable results (sometimes ten or more additional years of survival, well into the 90s, and reasonable independence for some years), were not possible for earlier generations. Periods of senior disability at end of life are longer than they were for our parents when they tended our grandparents.

I must add something else here of a personal nature. I don't liked to be asked to function as a "role model" for kids in situations resembling those that were humiliating when I was a boy. (But I guess that really belongs on the main blog.) 

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