For anyone reading this and contemplating acceding to the pleas of any elderly relative, to allow them to live with you, plainly put, just provide an empathic NO! This approach may appear cold, harsh, blunt and possibly making you rethink your value system as a loving and caring human being. However, the negative effects which result from sharing your home with and providing care for an elderly person, to me, is emotionally and mentally devastating. I say this after now living in the role of care provider for my elderly mother-in-law who is so absolutely self-absorbed that my husband and I are convinced that she can see her internal organs! No one else matters but her!
Medical Science has a tremendous amount to answer for in creating emotional and mental health issues in the relatives of the elderly; through advances which allow people to live longer and spending more time with often debilitating illnesses and disability or the corollary of an aged body but a loss of mind to dementia. Arguably, these scientific advances have severe implications for ‘true’ productive living but since when is being incontinent, inability to walk, loss of sight and the myriad of other life limiting issues, quality life?
Additionally, one popular theory holds that humans are essentially programmed to die after they are no longer needed to raise the children they produce. This may be perceived as an extreme view but should truly be the case since your life is subsumed and consumed by care giving. Undeniably this holds true, for the most part to an elderly person where ‘the world is not enough,’ and ingratitude rules.
There is no recognition that after living their own life, that living on memories in the evening of their years should be an option. It seems that the need to live not only vicariously through yours, but to do so in reality is a high priority. There is the constant demand of wanting 24/7 attention despite having their needs met in every regard. Followed by the requests to be involved in everything you do and to go everywhere you go; when this is denied you get the adult tantrum of anger of being left out. Therefore, you leave your home with a ‘guilt trip’ feeling that you are the selfish one!
Obsession to be included in all visits which you make to your friends’ homes and to feel the need to be a focal part of your home entertaining is a regular occurrence. FOMO, fear of missing out becomes an elderly virus resulting in your loss of privacy to have conversations with your husband and friends. Your actions, choices, and way of living all suddenly have to be either defended or justified. You are now ‘psychologically incarcerated’ by your agreement to do your best for this elderly person, who will continue to manipulate you by the immortal phrase, ‘I don’t want to be a burden but I don’t want to go in a nursing home.’ Therefore from the outset, don’t get sucked in, just say NO!