We all would like to believe our parents will settle in to their paid-for home after all the kids had gone and would revel in the peace and quiet and celebrate growing old with each older.
Unfortunately, this does not often happen.
We would sure like to believe gramps and granny would while away their days rocking on the porch drinking lemonade with their old dog Shep and sleeping on duck feather filled pillows. Grandchildren would run in the yard and sit and listen to stories of families and tales of wonder. Children will fluff their pillows as they nap and make sure they get enough to eat. Grandmothers would pass down secret recipes and grandpas would reminisce old war stories. The neighbors will look in on them every now and then and no one minds that they wear the same clothing everyday. They might wave at them but don’t remember their names.
Still the realization that time takes its toil.
The legs start to give out, the knees hurt, and opening a jar becomes difficult. Mobility and cognition fade.
Our grandparents and then our parents and then we decay to a point of inability to care for our daily life. We fall and can’t stand up. We drop things and can’t pick them up. We forget where we put our keys. We forget to close the front door.
An industry of marvelous wonderlands has grown to offer an alternative living at home for old folks. They offer warm comfortable living spaces with easy access to elevators instead of steps. They offer caregivers who will prepare healthy nutrition and push the wheelchairs. Recreation and entertainment are offered and planned weekly shopping trips present a vacation atmosphere. The appearance of hotel suites with all the amenities of home, but it is not home.
This is just a way station until bedridden and then deceased.
The ‘rest’ homes are necessary due to the time restrictions on families and the lost interest of taking care of the elderly. Much like other mentally or physically impaired, we move them out of the way
Not being totally uncaring about our ailing parents, there is a prescription for every ache and pain. Even with all the tubes and pin pokes and monitors, we keep the body going as long as money holds out.
Once the sheet is pulled up another one will be wheeled in.
The problem is, rest homes are prisons. The freedom to wake up when you want or eat when you want or watch a television show or go outside is all regulated now. On the days when you want to be alone, you are prodded to join into participation because that is what rest homes do.
The participants know their families have released responsibility to someone else. Some corporation with a strange sounding name has promised their loved ones will be care for by marginally skilled under paid staff that have no concern on the well being under their care.
The worst part is being taken out of the familiar. Where is the coat hook? How many steps to the bathroom? Where are the towels? Where is my favorite mug?
Years in one home create those special memories the elderly cling to. Remember when this was the boys room? Remember that wallpaper? Remember the summer that tree was planted?
Photos can share some of the memories but there is nothing like walking into a room and be flooded with all the antics and dramas and those special moments in time that happened in that room while you lived there.
If you had built the house, those were your memories. If you moved into a previously owned and now vacant house, there were memories in each room that you didn’t know.
So in the big scheme of things, we all just move from shelter-to-shelter creating memories along the way and then they are gone. We will all rest homeless.