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Seniors - Neglected, Used (Abused?) by Families

Updated on October 27, 2016
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long student of psycho-philosophy of living, and a devoted practitioner of many techniques enhancing personal evolution.

They Have Given  -  Could They Receive Now?
They Have Given - Could They Receive Now?

When Kids Refuse to Grow Up

With an increasing number of baby-boomers reaching their retirement age, every now an then I get another glimpse at this strange phenomenon of the way they get treated by their, now grownup offspring - something that I immediately called "secondary umbilical cord".

Fancy name, I know, but quite descriptive of the younger generation sometimes being less than fair to their aging folks while acting as if attached to them by their constant needs. Really, it's a kind of irregular - to use the mildest expression - to see so many old-timers catering to the needs of the young ones, instead of the opposite being the case.

Getting Some Rest at Work

Indeed, one would think that retirement should be the time to slow down, and - as much as declining health allows it - enjoy some of the fruits of those working years. Maybe with a hobby, a trip, a membership in a club with activities suitable to their age. Or, even if none of the above, just to have some peaceful time to sip on their morning tea and watch their favorite TV show, if not to have a nice walk in a park and feed squirrels.

So, here is this acquaintance of ours overdue for her retirement, but still working part time at a bank. Why? Does she need that extra money? No, but the bank is the place where she gets some time off from babysitting her multiple grandchildren that just get dumped on her, because the parents are making up all kinds of reasons to have "some free hands from children".Maybe a trip, a birthday party, a concert, a movie, or just "pms-ing and needing some peace".

This Makes Two to be Cared For
This Makes Two to be Cared For

Making Themselves Helpful - or Abused?

There is no question of how much that poor lady loves her grandchildren. Of course she is crazy about each one of them, and she likes to be helpful. It's only that she is being taken for granted, which has turned into her regular chores, not a favor.

She actually confided to my wife how her kids don't know about her having taken an extra day off at the bank to have some peace at home.

Or, here we have another example among our acquaintances, with this aging lady who has made it a family tradition to cook a gourmet Sunday dinner for her sons and a daughter with their respective families.

While they are well educated people, and I am talking doctors and a lawyer, so some mysterious reasons they are failing to notice how that tradition has been long overdue to stop because their mother is now in her early eighties. It simply beats me that they are waiting to be told that maybe it's time for them to start reversing the tradition and inviting their old mother for Sunday dinners.

Rather than Changing Diapers
Rather than Changing Diapers

A Secret Fear

Some of you may be wondering why those ladies don't simply tell their kids that they are not physically up to those activities anymore? Well, you see, there is this nagging worry on their mind that - if they stop being useful to them, that could be a beginning of their being neglected.

It's that well familiar feeling of "being useless", which started right after that farewell party at their workplace. The memories are still so vivid, with everyone looking so friendly and lovable, even that nasty boss and those couple of cold co-workers now showering them with wishes for a joyful retirement.

And then, all being followed by that not easy to forget moment, as they walked to their parked car carrying those flowers and gifts, with that question creeping up their spine : "What now?" Not so many people step into retirement having some hobbies to fill their time with, and instead of being given a chance to come up with some, they get "employed" by their young family.

The thought of being useless to anybody may be unbearable, and that's why they would rather silently suffer with a smile and continue - until they have to be placed into an old age home, not to be a burden to anyone.

A Culture to Learn from about some Heart Values
A Culture to Learn from about some Heart Values

Those Lucky Oriental Old-Timers

A rumor has it, or is that an established fact that on the Japanese island of Okinawa, and generally in that Far East part of the world there is a great number of centenarians - apparently due to their exceptionally esteemed status in the society.

Those folks are valued for their knowledge, life experience, and wisdom, and that feeling needed - and respected enough not to be "used" gives them a purpose to live. Unlike the seniors in this western, materialistically oriented culture where they are just a burden to the society and the budget with their medical needs.

Just for a moment of some humor, imagine if those Oriental societies were willing to adopt some of our old folks - maybe it would turn into another big migration similar to the Syrian.

When Life Is Reduced just to Memories
When Life Is Reduced just to Memories

With a Compassionate Heart

My wife and I live in an apartment building across from an old folks home. From a distance that wouldn't make me a "peeping tom", every Christmas I can see those poorly decorated windows with only a couple of colored lights blinking.

Then I ask myself, how many of those poor souls feel lonely on that day, with their young ones having a good time somewhere and "trying to squeeze" visiting them for an hour between all those parties.

With an old fantasy of mine of becoming able some day to "heal people at distance", I send these old-timers my good vibes with all wishes for a more dignifying life in the year to come.

How Could Life Look so Good from that Seat
How Could Life Look so Good from that Seat

A Distance Healer that never Was

This fantasy of mine might have started in those early years of my childhood, while I was watching my polio-stricken aunt down on her four, grabbing her foot and pushing it forward for her next "step".

Born during the WW2 in the basement of that old building, I spent my first five years living with my grandma and her daughter - my handicapped aunt Barbara. Those two angels in form of human beings did everything for my soul and my body that my parents somehow were not fit to for.

In my seven decades of life I have never met a person who loved life as my aunt Barbara did. And when I emigrated to Canada, her letters were the dearest to me. Those letters written with a hand that was slightly deformed from being used for walking; that handwriting of someone who never went to school, and learned to write and read on her own - to become a passionate reader of so many novels.


Wisdom of a Yellowed Letter
Wisdom of a Yellowed Letter

A Letter that Stayed Tattooed on My Heart

One letter in particular in which my auntie said - if she had ever been granted a wish, it would have been for living the same life all over, regardless of her disability, that scarcity of food and uncertainties of the war years.

Through all turbulent initial times of my emigration, and many times after that letter was like an eternal inspiration to me - and she would have been proud of my handling it all with a smile of someone who got inspired to love life unconditionally.

She also remembered all those occasions when I used to carry her like a child down those many stairs to her invalid tricycle as a teenager, and pushed it for hours to a wood where she enjoyed the aroma of the nature and those birds happily singing.

She even remembered those forest flowers that I picked for her, and which would always perish in her hand on the long way home.

Doctors of those times predicted she wouldn't live past her thirties. She died at the age of ninety four, probably with a smile on her sweet, old face.

A Woman Who just Loved Life
A Woman Who just Loved Life

A Story Deserving to Be Told to Many

That woman have fro ever been, and forever will be a cherished example of a gigantic will to live - which prevented me to ever complain about life. My aunt loved me a lot, and I know she said many nice things about me; so here is my chance to let the legacy of that brave woman go around the world to anybody with enough of a heart to share my deep respect for her.

Well, I never developed those "healing powers" to heal aunt Barbara, but as I am looking at those flickering colored lights at every Christmas, my heart is just the same persisting with that fantasy, with a hope that my wishing well somehow reaches those lonely souls across the road.

Hugs at Every Age
Hugs at Every Age

No Seasonal Hugs

Maybe there is a part of me that deep down disliked the fact that my little brother and I ended up in hands of those two good women exhausted by war - beside two young and strong parents.

And maybe the memory of all that gave me the inspiration to write this article, questioning the justifiable motivation of all those young parents who may not have enough heart to appreciate their old folks.

One thing is sure though - the story was not inspired by the way we have been treated by our grownup kids, now in their forties. Long time ago, I told them not to bother giving us a hug or a kiss if it's only to happen on Valentine's Day, our birthdays, and at Christmas - when it's prescribed by society.

They remembered, even though I don't think I ever had to tell them that, judging by the way they turned out - loving and respectful. So, there is a lot of those bear hugs in our family. Since they live in the same building in their own apartments, we even hug when we meet down at the parking lot. Well, they were raised seeing only love and harmony in their home, and that must have done it.

So, there is nothing like a "seasonal love" in this family, and that makes this age additionally beautiful.

Love Is what Makes Autumn of Our Life Feel like Spring
Love Is what Makes Autumn of Our Life Feel like Spring

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 13 months ago

      The story about your Aunt Barbara is so heart-warming. It is nice that she had you to care for her when she needed someone. When I was a child, we loved and respected our elders in an extended family. I never dreamed that when I was my grandparents' age, there would be only four of us left who lived nearby, and I'm the only female. It does get lonely, so I'm still working as much for the companionship as the money.

      You did a great article, but you left out one thing. Where did our kids get the idea that we owed them a place to live. I have one of those, and a lot of boomers and oldsters find their grown children moving back home or into property owned by their parents. I would kick him out except that he has an autoimmune disease that will eventually render him an invalid. I can't leave him homeless, which is what would happen, because it probably would kill him.

    • junko profile image

      junko 13 months ago

      Well written and enlightening, this should be read by the young and old everywhere. I'll do what I can to share it.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      MizBejabbers - Many times it's an emotional blackmail on the part of the grownup kids who threaten to "go homeless", or play some other touchy tune titled "Poor me", cornering their old parents into giving in.

      I understand your situation, and it's very noble of you to help out a kid that has that condition. As for your still working, good for you, like you say it's not only for money, but also for an opportunity to be out with people and forget a little about your lonely life style. Well, sometimes it's not so much up to the circumstances in our old life as in our attitude about it, so all of us old-timers have to find out ways to cheer up, and look at the bright side of what is left. I can sense in you a metal of a person who can do just that. Be well, my friend. - Val

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Junko - Thank you for your comment, I just read a few of your hubs, and I am flattered that the comment comes from a guy with such deep political insight.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 13 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I understand this whole scenario. My husband and I are retired and we pickup our 8 year old granddaughter from school several times a week and when school is out, we will have to take care of her all summer because her mother works and her father only gets visiting rights. Not that we mind but like you wrote we always thought when we retired we would do what we wanted. I have several friends who actually take care of all of their smaller grandchildren on a daily basis. All of my friends are retired too. It's a different world. My mother and father only babysat when we went to a movie. But I never worked while my children were growing up. I also have the whole family over every Saturday for a family dinner. But, to tell the truth, I love it. Thank you for sharing this hub subject and your story.

      Blessings to you.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 13 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Children who still honor their parents and other senior relatives are scarce these days. I loved your story. It is a proven fact when senior citizens are loved they are happy and live longer.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Rachel - As you probably understand, my hubs are generalizations of different phenomena in the life of people, and it's impossible to mention all of their variations. In this case, of course, there are many parents who enjoy helping their grownup kids, and it's very noble of them. After all, whom shall we help if not our own?

      However, as you probably noticed, I was talking about so many others who are taken advantage of, maybe in poor health, or maybe just tired of life and irritable, and helping just because they cannot say "No". Also about those lonesome ones, neglected and left to their own fate.

      In your case, it's great that you are so helpful and your heath still allows you to be. I am sure your help is appreciated. - Have a wonderful day. -Val

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 13 months ago from Cicero, New York

      Wow Val good morning. And you nailed it again. Your hubs are just so unique and so heart-felt and hit home for so many individuals that can relate. Your skillful writing once again has emanated. An absolute must to read for those not far from being seniors themselves and for those who have aging parents and grandparents. And honestly at some point in our lives that is all of us. Take care. Talk to you again. :)

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Linda - Good morning my friend. Without throwing any flattering lies at you, it's hard to tell what is more eloquent and a pleasure to read - your hubs or the positive and encouraging comments you write. I certainly hope that my mention of my brave and life-loving, although polio-stricken aunt may give an inspiration to some old folks. Stories like that may be able to "recharge batteries" to many who are losing from their sight the purpose of facing another day. Life is good, no matter what! - Thank you, Linda, and have a fabulous rest of the day! - Val

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 13 months ago from Cicero, New York

      You too Val always a tremendous pleasure hearing from you and as well, your have accomplished what you had intended. Well done and you are always an upbeat person, others can learn so much from you. Take care. You too Val hope that your day is super and happy hubbing. A man with a world of incredible knowledge. :) Talk to you again.

    • sukhneet profile image

      Sukhneet Kaur Bhatti 13 months ago from India

      very well-written and heart touching. Congratulations on winning the hearts of so many people through this write-up

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 13 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      We've moved away from being a society that venerated their elders regardless. To be honest, some offspring move away from their parents in the hope of leaving them behind for one reason or another. Some parents use emotional blackmail to hold onto their offspring. Some parents have imprisoned their offspring to ensure they never leave. When they reach maturity they can't because of mental and/or physical disability.

      I pride myself that we've brought up our offspring to be independent. When they come back to visit, or when we meet they don't feel obliged to do so but enjoy meeting. Our younger two - of three - are abroad, studying and working having learned the language of the countries they live in. German in both cases but a different 'complexion' of the language. They feel as much at home there as back here, with partners of different nationalities. Our son in Germany has a German girlfriend, the daughter in Austria has an Italian boyfriend. The elder daughter here in London has moved in a Spaniard. (Let's hope for their sakes we don't 'Brexit').

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Sukhneet - Thank you for nice comment and for congrats. - Val

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Alancaster - Of course, there are many variations in the ways that these oldest two generations are relating to each other, and you pointed at the opposite from the one I wrote about in my hub.

      A congrats is in order for your bringing up your kids to be independent. They are obviously doing well, and you must be enjoying your retirement - an ideal outcome. The way it looks you are going to have quite an international family. Why not? Visiting will be fun with all that exploring new parts of Europe.

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Always exploring - You are right, for many seniors there is not much left to expect of life in terms of achievements, and feeling loved and cared for is their reward for all they have done for their kids. Thank you for reading my hub. - Val

    • Aliswell profile image

      Aliswell 13 months ago from Iowa

      Hello Val-as for us 'Old Timers' that don't have a 'Snowballs chance in Hell' of receiving any love, care, or lighting of the fire for the cremation process-from those who were generations ago, expected to do just what you suggest-Well life is just what it Is, and Death is but a end to what it Was!

      By the By-what's with ALL the thousands of new 'Followings'????

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Allen - Hello, old buddy, well, I am an optimist and one day I will die with a smile on my face. But before that happens I still want to smile and laugh and enjoy whatever reason the world gives me, and whatever reasons I make up out of the thin air.

      As for those new thousands of "Followings", I am a playful dude, so I will read as much as possible of those creations and also find out how many of them will read my profile and find something in it that may inspire them to read some of my stuff.

      So far I got quite a few, and it's a good feeling that people appreciate what I write, according to their comments. You used to give me that same feeling with your comments. Money is nothing here, it's all about sharing our thoughts. I have kept many of my thoughts for myself for too long, and now it gives me pleasure to see that some folks find them useful. - Be well, my friend. - Val

    • Aliswell profile image

      Aliswell 13 months ago from Iowa

      Val- I hope you don't feel that I don't find pleasure from your wonderful words, As I most definitely DO!! Just being a sort of 'Outside the Lines' type today, with my comments about my own personal 'Non Caretaking' future and my try at justifying in my own mind-that it don't matter after all???

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Allen - Your very presence among my commenters means a lot to me, and I am not measuring your words with apothecary scale. Just picture the two of us saying many more soul-filling words to each other in the years to come, and that alone may add to the value of our future. Not to mention another one of your Hawaiian golf and spiritual experiences that you will surely want to happen again. Future is good my friend, because we can do better than we did before. It's Wednesday, and I am already having a better one than the last one was by talking to you. - Be well my friend. - Val

    • junko profile image

      junko 13 months ago

      I was just reading the mail and ran across y"all talking to and not at each other. I really enjoy talking to and not at people. It is wonder full when the person is a stranger you just happen to meet. "Iron Sharpens Iron".

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 13 months ago from Canada

      Junko - I totally agree. It's not only a matter of being civil, but also of being emotionally mature, since most immature mentalities have this need to have that imaginary "upper hand" by talking "at" others, not "to" them.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 12 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      It's true that Americans flagrantly discriminate against the elderly. However, one must consider other factors, such as how those parents treated them when they were children. You mentioned young parents dumping their little ones on grandparents, using them as a convenience. That's teaching the kids it is perfectly acceptable to use the elderly, and to devalue them otherwise. When they become parents themselves, they will most likely dump their brats on their aging parents, otherwise having no use for them.

      It is a well known fact that elder abuse usually comes from their children, who they abused / neglected. What goes around comes around!

    • ValKaras profile image
      Author

      Vladimir Karas 12 months ago from Canada

      Say Yes To Life - You are right as you are offering this alternate scenario for consideration - sometimes the same bad parental skills are passed on from generation to generation, with new parents paying for their abusing their parents. Thanks for the good input. - Val

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 12 months ago from Oklahoma

      Very thought provoking.

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