Parents and Children: Living at "Homes" outside Homes


by msabaye

I was listening to The Debaters on CBC. One of the contestants, commenting on the advantages of staying home to look after his children, said it was worth all the trouble as he knew that his son would put him in a nice 'home' when he is old.  

why is it such a hard thing? Still in Canada, parents speak of spending their old age in a 'home' in a disgruntled way. I remember one of our relatives caring for his old mother in Iran: the mother was incapacitated and the family didn't have proper means of caring for her at home. But of course, no one would think/hear of placing the elderly mother in a nursing home. I knew of another family who went to emotional and financial ruins after years of caring for their father who suffered from one severe problem after the other. He passed away after twenty-five years of non-stop bed-rest, and the family, frustrated and exhausted, fell apart.

Living in a nursing home or senior residence does not have to equate with being abandoned. Though, in practice, it unfortunately often is. The elderly have some degree of independence, programs, and activities. And there is nothing to prevent them or their relatives from visiting them as often as they wish. Is caring for the elderly a feasible option for many people with jobs and children? A strong family and social network as well as adequate financial resources can be very helpful in managing care for the elderly, but how many people have these?

But of course, there is the other issue of caring for children. As far as I can see, many parents send their children to 'homes' at very young ages. I often wonder how parents can let go of babies in nurseries and day cares. I know quite a few, who, after giving birth, ship their children overseas to grandparents to care for them. The reason? They want to study, to work to make lots of money, or they just don't have the time for the baby. They have their own lives, careers, and the babies are an obstacle to their living life exactly the way they want. I sometimes wonder whether these children would recognize their parents if they saw them on the street?

I am not talking about destitute people who send their children somewhere to save them from starvation or foul future owing to lack of opportunities. These are educated professionals who earn a great deal of money who cannot find time for the children they bring into this world.

I have an acquaintance who always tells me that they have so much money they don't know what to do with. And then he tells me that his wife leaves for three days in a row to travel to another city to take a contract to make more money. They have three houses, two cars, savings, bonds, ... Their children, by their own admission, were raised in nurseries and day cares. And now that they are teenagers, the parents don't understand why their children seem like strangers to them.

I am not sure that the children who are brought up in nurseries or in other countries without their parents are the same ones who put their parents in nursing homes. But I do see a trend: parents leave their children behind and later on children leave them behind. Will we ever have time for anyone else? Our children or our parents?


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new global trends

by msabaye on

what a wonderful thing to do: visiting the old lady. It is so heart warming to see kindness around. 

I have a few people around who are not in homes but practically abandoned, mostly owing to circumstances. Each child lives in a different country and a huge load is on the child living in the same country as the elderly parent.

I try to visit and take them places they need to go as often as I can, and I observe the same thing. To be honest with you, I think it does more good for me than it does for them. I notice doing something so small, as far as I am concerned, makes such a big difference in their lives: visiting the grave of a loved one, the doctor's office, or shopping. Each one of these seems to be quite a big task to them, and yet, to me it is just a few hours in a month.

All the Best. 

P.S. did you like the results of the match?


New global trend, longitudinal studies unpublished

by Monda on

Dear msabaye, I left you the short complimentary comment the other night because a) I wanted to watch the rerurns of Spain/ Germany match, b) the topic of your blog being so close to my heart, I did not have the energy at that moment to put more thought into it.

Revisiting your blog, Javaneh29 makes good points. I am not aware of any correlational studies about level of pre-school care and that for the parents in the later years. At least not in the US.  Our local Institute of the Ageing in Northern California (where I volunteered through) and some local hospices (where I've have worked for years) do have limited inhouse research material - certainly not valid for the elderly population at large (those without life threatening conditions Or residents of other counties Or all cultures).

In the past decades, certain changes in the cross-cultural parenting styles have emerged as well. For instance, the "sandwiched generation, us" looks into accommodating parents outside of their cultural norms, by hiring cheaper labor to care for them or by arranging for parents to live with some family members (or friends) in the countries of origin. When parents are at the elderly homes, often due to some form of dimentia or physical disability, often times lack of proper emotional care does place a burden on all family members, the elder (first hand) And the adult children (first or second hand, depending on their relationship with the parents).  Often, caretakers don't speak the elderly's native language which in most cases, even with Alzheimer patients in advnced stages of the disease, provides a less than ideal living condition.

Where we live, I see many younger grandparents care for their grandchildren, not only Iranians.  I also see many older grandparents who are well taken care of by their adult children or grandchildren, especially Iranians. In general I am hopeful that the harsh economic realities would bring back some of the culturally specific practices, based on sensible collective wisdom. Until then I do what I can.

For the past months I have been visiting a relative at a local home, with no one around speaking Persian. So when her sons told me about her condition, I made it a few hours a week plan to stop by with some Persian item (food, music or flower)... I see the slight shift in her eyes when I enter.  And that feels right to me. 



Good point !

by javaneh29 on

I think it's an interesting idea although also think the  issues people have to consider are probably quite  complex. Plus and the bottom line has to be the elderly persons choice.

My mother is always saying to me about not wanting to be a burden and when the time comes to place her in a home. That's not going to happen, I will convince her otherwise and for the record I wasn't placed in day care!   

It must be an incredibly difficult decision to make. As a social worker I have been through the decision making process with a few families. 

I wonder if any one will think of conducting some kind of study  about it to see if there is any correlation between the numbers of people who were placed in day care and then later placed their parents in a home. 


You make total sense to me, I wonder too!

by Monda on

Thank you for such a meaningful blog.