Something really sad to get you thinking

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by amelia, Nov 21, 2004.

  1. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Yesterday afternoon, my neighbor of 20 years informed me that he would be moving away within the next couple of hours. This is an elderly gentleman who has aged a great deal in the last few years and has had a number of serious physical ailments. He is very hunched over and has a lot of difficulty getting around now, even with a walker. He lost his wife earlier this year. (He began tearing up when he mentioned her name.) Seems that he has been having financial difficulties and, in desperation, entered into a deal with a professional home equity buyer that got him some badly needed cash. I never knew about any of this.

    For the last ten years or so, this gentleman has had younger in-laws living with him in his home. I figured it was a family situation, and that they were looking out for him, but apparently that was not the case. It seems that he's been "helping" them financially, and now that the ride's over and he needs help, they're nowhere in sight.

    Apparently an old high school buddy has offered this gentleman a place to live in a secluded cabin near their home. Everything was packed up, along with his beloved dog and cat, and he was gone by early evening. I stayed awake last night thinking about the first night alone in this cabin. I wondered, "What happens when this high school buddy (who is also elderly) dies and the younger family members no longer want him there?"

    I have felt absolutely sick today about all this. It's one thing to weather hard times when you're young and healthy, but I can't imagine how it must be to lose everything when you're unable to do things for yourself and feel entirely alone.

    What's more, I realize that 've been living within a stone's throw of somebody that really needed help, and I was too busy and preoccupied with my own life to figure it out.
     
  2. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

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    Wow... that certainly does put certain things in perspective.
     

  3. Bramblecroft

    Bramblecroft Member

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    Amelia, what you shared really touched me. Thank you for sharing it. The fact that you chose to do so, that you've lost sleep pondering the situation tells me a lot about you as a person. You're made of the good stuff. You'll absorb this into yourself and grow from it, and the next time you will be better prepared to act. But please don't be too hard on yourself. I think it is widely accepted by most people that if we see evidence of other family members being present that we assume everyone's needs are being met.

    Another thing to consider, although this sounds somewhat cold-hearted, is that every story has two sides. You've only heard your neighbor's side of the story, if I undertand you correctly. I was drawn into a similar situation with an elderly gentleman who used to be my neighbor. He seemed very much alone, but I knew he had an extensive family. I came to learn late in the situation, and after I had put considerable effort into helping him (which I'm glad I did), that my elderly friend had alienated himself from everyone in his family over a long period of time due to his mean-spirited and nasty ways. Given that he'd run his family and friends off, he was inclined to present himself as somewhat needy to gain my sympathy. I'm not saying that is the case with your neighbor, but I'm asking you to give yourself the benefit of the doubt that perhaps there is more to the story than was shared with you.

    Remeber, too, that just as you consider that you might have taken action sooner, your neighbor had the same opportunity to reach out to you. It appears that he chose not to do so until the very day he was leaving. Perhaps he is feeling, having met you, that he too missed an opportunity to know you better.

    The overriding larger issues you mention are ones I care deeply about, too. I'm a middle-aged person, recently seperated, soon to be divorced, facing the future as bravely as I can but with great trepidation. Ours is a society that has become so fragmented, so self-absorbed, made unnecessarily hectic by 1,001 things we are led (or allow ourselves to be led) to believe are all of equal importance, that we can't see the forest for the trees. We have also become complacent that the myriad of organizations created to meet people's needs somehow finds everyone who needs them!

    I don't know who much of this we can change. Individually we can work to change how we interact with people, but more importantly - and this is something with which I am working with great passion - the ideal would be to create a sense of community among ourselves. Problems, challenges and situations shared within a group of caring individuals always seems to make the task or challenge easier to address. We would all be wise to remember we will all come to reckon with one challenge or another as we get older. How wonderful it would be to know that in our lifetime we created a network of community upon which we could then rely when we needed it.

    If you'd like to continue to discuss your experience, and the issue of community, please visit www.green-trust.org and visit the forum there. Look for the topic community.

    In the mean time, send out your prayers on behalf of your neighbor and take solace in your faith in whatever form that manifests itself for you. And get some sleep.
     
  4. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I've got "mean spirited and nasty" older relatives, some of whom have real resources behind them, and I think a lot of their behavior can be traced to childhood experiences during the Depression. As they get progressively more and more frail they become ever more frightened by the possibility of having to live through those hard times again... when they're least able to cope with them. The ones with resources seem to have better control over their fears. The ones without...no.

    These people come from a generation who didn't ask for charity or help, it was shameful. They "made do." They worked hard and saved and the "deal" they made was that if they did the "right thing" they'd be protected in their old age.

    Not scared to death.

    Bundled up in that fear is shame, regret (did I make the right choice in '69 by going to work for so and so?), and loss. Not a very happy combination. No wonder some of these people seem mean spirited and nasty. They haven't got anything else left.
     
  5. Becky H.

    Becky H. Well-Known Member

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    Even a grumpy old man doesn't deserve to live the rest of his golden years alone. You have a good heart to be troubled by his plight.

    Contact the real estate agent and find out where he moved. If it isn't too far then visit him occasionally. Find out the date of his birth and at that time, and any holiday as well. Do what you can do for the man.

    If you don't have it to give to maintain a relationship with him, then that's okay too. Don't give what you don't have to give.

    I don't live by my parents. But already speaking with my siblings they are taking care of them it was a "vow." What i did do was volunteer myself to another elderly couple. The couple has 8 or so kids, and the couple still needed help so I do help them. I can't give all that they need, as I have a family of my own that comes first, but I do what I can.

    Many years ago I lived next to an elderly widowed lady. She was very much self sufficient got around quite well in her house and her garden. Her daughter lived just a couple blocks away so my only role was to occasionally talk to her, once or twice a week. The gentleman down the street helped her with her heavy chores.

    To my horror the lady had fallen and broken her hip. She was so self-sufficient that she attempted a step ladder and lost her balance and fell. She laid in her home for two days in pain and fear that nobody was coming to help her. Had I only been there to help her get the can off the shelf.

    You can't save the world but you can do some good in the little deeds that make it a better place. Do what you can no more no less is all you can really do.
     
  6. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

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    Becky, that kinda reminded me of my mother.

    She had a bad drinking problem, and ran all of us kids off with her obnoxious drunken behavior. We all moved out of the state she lived in. Even with that, I tried to get her to come live with us but she refused. She wanted to stay self-sufficient.

    One night last winter, she went to take the trash out while drunk, fell and broke her arm. She laid out in the driveway all night until a neighbor seen her in the morning and called 911. She refused treatment at the hospital and slipped into a coma.

    It took a few days for us to drive there and give permission for her to be treated. It was too late by then, she developed pneumonia and died. Trying to remain self-sufficient in her case did not work out.

    Bob
     
  7. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

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    Try not to feel bad. We don't always know when someone is in trouble. Your'e heart is in the right place, though. I've missed the mark at times, too. Forgive yourself.......Margo
     
  8. quietstar

    quietstar Well-Known Member

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    Amelia....I like your caring heart and the soul that shines through your post. Please don't be self-critical for things unknown to you...I find your attitude inspiring....Glen
     
  9. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, all of you, for your kind replies. Maybe it's not too late to do what I should have done all along. I wish--for my own sake--that I could frame this in a way that casts the fault somewhere else, but the fact is that this gentleman never did ask for anything. He was always upbeat and never sought to impose.
    Needless to say, a big lesson in life was learned by this moron (yours truly).
     
  10. Lt. Wombat

    Lt. Wombat Well-Known Member

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    You ought to try working as a physician and see the condition some of our geriatric patients roll through the door in. We recently had an 83 year old patient (I can discuss this because the case is now public knowledge) from western Kansas whose granddaughter had moved in on him with her biker boyfriend and 5 illegitimate kids. Not soon after the invasion they moved him into the garage while they took over the house.

    When the garage was needed to work on choppers they moved him into a small metal shed in the back yard and eventually locked him inside with a bucket for a toilet, 2 pallets to sleep on and TV dinners passed under the door frozen. He was freed by the fire department when they responded to the house being on fire after the granddaughters methamphetamine lab exploded, killing 2 of the children.

    He was horribly dehydrated and malnourished, pressure ulcers on all boney prominences and suffering from a dislocated shoulder. And the kicker: he was afraid to testify to the detectives because he didn’t want to see his granddaughter get into trouble as she was a “good girl”.

    The geriatrics of today are definitely from a different era. I can only imagine how I’ll have it when I’m 83 and being cared for by the “ME ME ME” generation of today
     
  11. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Now that's not fair or right, what you are saying about people of my generation. All told, when you adjust for inflation we work longer hours for less pay than our parents or grandparents generations did. I see both my parents and usually my wife's parents almost every day. I go over to their place and do odd jobs, help clear brush, etc. My brother does the same thing. My wife and I are getting ready to build a new house and we are planning a guest cottage on the property just so that 20 years from now they can come to live with us.

    I am not ususual. I know plenty of other people my age who look out for their parents and their extended family.

    You want to talk about a 'ME ME ME generation'? Look at the babyboomers who are just now retiring in their 60's with full social security benefits and often their retirement accounts. People like ME have to work harder and harder to support a huge and growing group of retirees who are no longer contributing to the economy. Will I have that same benefit? Not on your life! Even if social security, which I've been paying into since I was 15, continues to exist, I won't get a red cent until I'm in my early 80's. They are doing the same thing with the eligible age to collect from private IRAs.

    My generation ultimately works it's butt off to support it's elders when we have zero hope of having the same kind of support system when we get to that age. I am sick and tired of constant insults from the very people who we are working to support.



     
  12. Lt. Wombat

    Lt. Wombat Well-Known Member

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    The today part was a mis-statement as the folks who will be caring for me when I'm in my mid 80's probably are not born yet, except maybe for the charge Nurse named Ratchet.
     
  13. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    I'm tired of the older generation always complaining about the younger generation.

    The younger generation has problems and stresses that the older generation never had to deal with. And a big part of it is geriatric care.

    In the past, when elderly parents got sick, they generally either died quickly or got better. They didn't linger for years in poor health like they do nowadays. And they had more children so the burden (of caring for elderly family) was spread out more.

    My mother passed away in Sept. after a lengthy illness (leukemia). Her mother (my grandmother) had the same illness but died within a couple of years of diagnosis - medical care has advanced since then since Mom lived 14 years. I'm grateful that I had two sisters in the area and we shared the duty of getting her to doctors, mowing the lawn, getting her car fixed, etc. - but for fourteen years our lives have revolved around making sure that someone was always available to her.

    My father had a stroke and was bedridden for 1 1/2 years before he passed away. He lived with me - I was divorced with two young children, full-time job, etc. Fifty years ago, he wouldn't have made it through the stroke.

    My ex-husband (and good friend) has THREE elderly aunts AND his mother - all are in their 80's and 90's. All are frail but insist on staying in their own homes. He keeps the houses in good shape, gets called for everything from making sure the bills get paid to changing light bulbs.

    My (former) mother-in-law frequently mentions the strain on her when *her* mother-in-law lived with them before she died. Turns out that that period was just under two months. And that's the only period she had to care for elderly family. Yet she complains when her son (my ex-husband) takes two hours to come over and light the pilot light (which she accidently turned off for the third time in a week).

    I don't mean to sound bitter - but so often the older generation seems to accept this as it's due. And then tops it off with constant complaints.

    I'm in my mid-forties - and I remember my parent's generation complaining about us. And now people my age complain about the next generation. Younger people are going to have it even harder than we did - their parents (my age) will live longer. And there's generally fewer of them (my mother had four children, I had only two). And they're now struggling to start a family and buy a house - often with much less family support than we had.

    So stop complaining about the younger generation. They have it tough.
     
  14. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    I confess my initial reaction to this response is that it is mighty harsh, but perhaps there is some truth in the idea that the burden of upon families has become greater.

    On the other hand, I do feel that our generation (by "our" I'm referring to those of us in our 40s and 50s) has been more self-oriented than most. There's a reason why we're still referred to as the "me generation." So I'm not sure whether, for most people, the demands of taking care of family are greater than they've traditionally been or whether they are simply perceived as more imposing based upon our personal expectations.

    I do know that I've grown up in a time where modern psychology has given us a whole host of excuses for avoiding our responsibilities to other people. Look at the vocabulary--"boundaries," "limits," "self-care," etc. Perfectly fine concepts, but often employed, IMHO, as a justification for doing what we want to do rather than what we know is the right thing to do.
     
  15. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    I realize we're dealing with heavy generalization here but what the heck.

    I'm a later gen-Xer and personally I think most of my generation are pretty pathetic. Most of the blame for this is that were raised by pathetic baby boomers. The poor younger WWII generation were sold a shady bill of goods by someone in the 30's and 40's who shall remain nameless and bought into the whole entitlement culture. I found the most wisdom of those who were either young adults or adults during the depression who never bought into the entitlement culture. Those people are pretty much gone now today which is sad to me. I think the wheels started to come off sometime around the late 1800s or early 1910's and the decline has been exponential. You don't even want to get me started on kids today. I know them personally and I shudder to see them grow up. God forbid we ever have a real trial to face this society. The most members of current generations simply couldn't hack. They and my generation need less self esteem and more slapping up side the head with the notion that YOU REALLY AREN'T THAT SPECIAL AND THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU OR OWE YOU ANYTHING.

    I think some things were better back way back when. Parents and grandparents were either under the same roof or very near by. New mom's didn't need egghead docs writing theoretical books to tell them how to raise their kids. Mom and grand mom could fill in the blanks she couldn't figure out. Elders were treated with respect and not shipped off to nursing homes when they became inconvenient. My grandmother cared for her invalid stepmother for several years before she died. Never a complaint. Very few people today would have an elderly parent in their house let alone an invalid.

    I built my house so my in-laws can come live with me whenever they wish or need to. I'm old fashioned that way.
     
  16. michelleIL

    michelleIL tryna be His

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    Hey this was a great post...thanks!
     
  17. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    You seem to think that you have it tough! The old folks don't die soon enough?That Really makes me feel good.
     
  18. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I really don't believe the OP wanted elders to die quicker- I believe she was making a statement of fact- that in earlier times we didn't have so many elderly - especially frail elders who need so much assistance- as people did in fact die younger.
    Now more of us are reaching elder ages and we are going to have to figure out ways to survive. I think most homesteaders, being practical people, will eventually make plans, even if the plan is keep a cup of hemlock handy for the time you break your hip and know no one will be coming by till thaw to check on you-
    Moving to a nursing home or assisted living community is NOT a fate worse than death, as by that time most residents either have failing mental powers or are very aware they can no longer care for their own needs. I have seen nursing home residents running resident council, tending container gardens, playing the piano, and otherwise making use of their abilities for the benefit of other residents.
     
  19. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

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    "You seem to think that you have it tough! The old folks don't die soon enough?That Really makes me feel good."

    Grandmotherbear - Thank you for mentioning that you felt this was a misreading of what I meant. You're right - I didn't mean it that way. People are living longer and in poorer health than was possible in past generations. They need help - and they generally rely on their family (grown children) to supply it. It's a simple statement of fact.

    And I'm pointing out that this 'sandwich' generation (those in their forties and fifties who are struggling to take care of their elderly parents and their college-age children) are the same ones that grew up in the 60's and 70's. Remember all the horrible things our elders said about our generation? Yet we turned out ok. And the generation following us doesn't deserve out constant criticism any more than we did when we were younger.
     
  20. Cheri in NY

    Cheri in NY Well-Known Member

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    "Honor your Mother and Father, that your days may be long upon the earth>"