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Treatment Of Parents

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Peace, everyone.


I feel I ought to comment on this.


In my experience, 'homes for the aged' in the West can be divided into two types.


The "Retirement Home": Very like a hotel. Each elderly person or couple rents a small apartment. Once a week, someone comes around and cleans it for them. There is a dining room and three meals a day are served. There are one or two medical people (Registered Nurses, usually) on duty at all times and every room has several alarm-cords you can pull to summon them. A doctor comes to the building to do check-ups. A hairdresser comes to the building to cut hair. They have games rooms with puzzles, chess-sets, billiards tables, cards, and so on. They usually have a small library and a room set up as a small cinema. Exercise classes are offered. Small-name musical acts, comedy shows and educational lectures are scheduled and are free to the residents and their guests. There's a chapel in the building, and weekly religious services are offered. The home has a bus that takes residents to the public library and to community events. Or even just out to restaurants -- my grandmother lived in one of these places and there was a little club of residents who lied to eat at resturants and would decide each week which one to try. They needed only to schedule for the bus and driver. Ones for the poor are obviously not as nice, but the one I have visited does manage its own shabbier versions of the rather resort-like amenities of the upper-middle-class one my grandmother lived in.


We went to see my grandmother quite often. It was rather fun to go there. It is true that a lot of the people who lived there did not see their families often and felt forgotten and shuffled aside, but I think it quite accurate to say that she had a better time living there than she would have living with us or any of her other children -- she would have been alone in the house all day as everyone would be working or at school.


The second type is a "Nursing Home" and that is the one that everyone fears. As my grandmother went from being merely very old to being quite ancient, she had some interesting problems. She didn't know what time it was, so she missed the meals at the retirement home. She had a hard time dressing herself and could scarcely walk. She had a difficult time getting in and out of bed, and was becoming incontinent. The retirement home people said she needed to move out -- calling her to meals, helping her out of bed, that is not part of the service they offer. We were phoning them up every night to ask if she had been at meals and going over there to bring her sandwiches when she missed them, often every day. We took her home to live with us. All the old people who lived there were very moved by this unusual occurance, they wept from hope. I was in college and my mother quit her job to take care of my grandmother -- it wasn't all that long before you had to clean and dress her several times a day, spoon feed her, etc. For a couple of years this was pretty cool, as my grandmother was an intelligent and interesting woman. But, oh man, people's minds go. I can't describe the troubles involved in caring for a person so old she has lost speech and appearantly all comprehension. Nor can I describe the pain of facing someone you love who is in such a state.


Anyway, she lived with us until she died, but we used to take a vacation at home by taking her to stay for a week in the dreaded nursing home. Probably half the people who lived there were like my grandmother when she first moved in with us -- a bit of trouble, yes, but well worth the benefit to the family as a source of love and wisdom. Given that the family can afford to have someone at home throughout most or all of the day. A lot of them would have been near-impossible to have at home -- my favourite of these being the woman who would stomp about at all hours bellowing, "Bring me the sledge-hammer! They're coming!"


I don't think it's right to suppose that it was my mother's responsibility to leave her job and become a full-time nurse for my grandmother. She went above and beyond the call of daughterly duty on this one. For a time it was rewarding and for a greater time it was a horror and a heartbreak. I think that for half of those years it would have been better for the family and about the same for my grandmother if she'd lived at the nursing home. A lot of people have to make this choice. In North America, at least, people tend to move around a lot, and not having extended family nearby makes it more difficult. But I will hazard that even a classic sort of tribal structure where you've got many children and your brothers are your neighbors cannot well cope with the age-related illnesses that nursing homes handle in their ugly clumsy way. It does make the 'retirement home' unnecessary. It also sounds awfully pleasant to me, but I'm a bit of a luddite.

We muslims believe this (what your mother did)is exactly the foremost duty of a son/daughter ,they took care of u when u were not able,u take care of them when they are not able....sounds right ,right ?

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We muslims believe this (what your mother did)is exactly the foremost duty of a son/daughter ,they took care of u when u were not able,u take care of them when they are  not able....sounds right ,right ?


Peace, truthful.


Theoretically, what you say is all fine and good. Your parents, when you were a baby and a little child, took care of you. They dressed you and bathed you and wiped your bottom. It seems only fair that you do the same for them.


However, an old person is not a baby. Caring for babies is joyful. Babies grow stronger and more responsive and more able to care for themselves. It is rewarding to watch them grow. They are fun to have around. They are vital and loving. Old people grow weaker and less responsive and less able to care for themselves. It is heartbreaking to watch. My grandmother lost her vitality, and by the end she was not loving at all. She didn't seem aware of her surroundings much of the time. Often she did not recognize me. Sometimes she seemed to find my (to her, alien) presence frightening.


Babies do not weigh 90 lb. Babies learn to talk, they do not slowly stop talking. Babies are small and easy to clean and their waste is not as foul as that of an adult. Babies learn to use the toilet, rather than forgetting how to do so. Babies seldom become so constipated that it is necessary to do something with your fingers that you'd never want to do to yourself, much less your mother. And with babies, joyful but difficult and extensive care you must provide is grown out of in a few years -- parenthood does not require that you spend five years changing diapers on a person you can barely lift.


It's just not the same.


To invite your aging parents to live with you, to eat meals with you, to enjoy your home, to have their laundry and other everyday cleaning needs met by you? Sure, it is right that sons and daughters do this, should the parents want it. It is also customary in my (Western) family.


To care for parents who are so aged that there is little difference between them and someone who is a 'vegetable'? Someone who needs a full-time nurse? This is not a daughter's duty. There is nothing wrong with turning those tasks over to professionals. Another member of my family was physically active until the end, but lost her mind such that she would destroy the house (trying to rearrange it to be like another house she remembered) if you left her alone for five minutes. It wasn't neglecting duty that her children arranged for her to live in a hospital. It was just necessary.


Seriously, in many cases, it is not a matter of children not wanting to care for their parents because it is inconvenient. It's a decision that is often made when the situation is a bit beyond 'inconvienent' and is approaching 'impossible.'

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Guest Sulemaan



This is actually an offshoot of another discussion, which I thought would make a fruitful and interesting topic.


We usually derive our idea of the West from two main sources. Mass media (movies, TV shows, News) and friends or relatives who live their or used to live there. The picture we get from these sources (regarding this topic) is not good. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Kale's post. The effort Kale's mother had put in looking after her mother is well worthy of praise and is something very highly regarded in Islam.


And remember We took a covenant from the children of israel (to this effect): worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity. Then did ye turn back except a few among you and ye backslide (even now). Holy Quran (2:83)


Notice how God is repeatedly mentions kindness towards parents immediately after the creed, i.e. believing in the Oneness of God - the fundamental belief of Muslims. This shows the importance of the act (kind treatement to parents) near God.


Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life say not to them a word of contempt nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. Holy Quran (17:23)


Here a gratitude to onces parents is emphasised, particularly the mother, who has a very special place in Islam.


And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.

But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did.

Holy Quran (31:14-15)


In verse 15, above, even if the parents are not Muslims, or are forcing us towards un-Islamic beliefs and practices, we are to give them the same treatment. This is very significant, since the binding factor in Islam is the believing in the Islamic creed. During the battle of Badr, the first battle between Muslims and pagans of Makkah, the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not allow one of his companions to engage with his father, but allowed other companios to engage with their sons. Here again, a sign of the special place that parents hold in the sight of God.


More on this, God Willing,



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:D brother Sulemaan!


:D for the post with the ayah from the Qur'an showing the position of parents in Islam.


The main emphasis is on the ayah (and I requote the meanings of the words):


Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life say not to them a word of contempt nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. Holy Quran (17:23)


If we are able to follow this ayah to the letter, we will ensure that as long as we are around, the parent/s will not feel any discomfort that can be avoided. If they need something and haven't even asked, I will try to make sure that they get it. The result will be my benefit as Allah :D will reward me for it, and the parent/s will pray for me for having done what I did.


If I put them in an old people's home, I will lose this benefit as they will be at the mercy of the attendants there.


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Hi, Sulemaan. And thanks. :D My mother deserves the highest of praise. She's truely wonderful. God forgive me, I am sure I did not help her with my grandmother as much as I ought to have done. But I do think, that for the last year or two of my grandmother's life, it would have been better if she'd lived in the nursing home. I feel that way because I want very much to protect my mother from suffering. For years after my grandmother died, my mother could not think of her without feeling terribly guilty -- by the end, caring for my grandmother was so difficult and heartbreaking. I don't really know how to say it. But after those terrible years, what my mother remembered was that she had hated taking care of the shell my grandmother had become. The love in her heart had been buried by pain and she felt she was a bad daughter because of that. She needed to be reminded of how very good and generous and courageous she had been, and she needed to be reminded of the good and wise woman that my grandmother had been before she grew so ill with age. It's taken years.


Probably my grandmother lived longer than she would have in a nursing home. But by the end she was so unaware of her surroundings that she would not have known the difference in any conscious way. It would have made a big difference to my mother and myself, though.


I think that the mass-media impression you've picked up is a perfectly accurate interpretation of what Western media says about this issue. Westerners are really unsatisfied with the nursing-home system. It is ugly, and we criticise it a lot. We want something better, and are trying to work out how, mainly by pointing out the flaws. In Canada (or at least, parts of it) you can have a nurse come around to help with invalid family members living in your home. In the city near where I live, there's a small business that is offering the same service. If this becomes more commonplace, and there are also smaller, more home-like nursing-homes set up in residential neighborhoods, things will start to look better.


I wonder what the statistics really are, about how many elderly Westerners live with their families and how much care they require. It's funny -- nobody accuses people of neglecting their duties to family if they have a family member who is young but brain-damaged, or suffering from a seriously debilitating disease of the nervous system, or is insane, and that person lives in a hospital. But when age-related illness creates the same symptoms in our parents, people often end up feeling that it is wrong to hospitalize them.


My great-grandmother died in a nursing home. She would have been all right to care for at home, even at the last, but she did not want to leave Scotland and had only one son, who lived in Canada.


My other grandmother cared for her father at home. She had a nurse come around several times a week to help, she lives where this service is provided free.


The grandmother of the wonderful man my cousin married died in her children's home, after living with them for years. She was a complete invalid and I never did see her awake, much less out of bed.


My stepmother's mom died in a nursing home, but she had become quite mad and did that thing where she'd make an enormous mess and risk hurting herself trying to rearrange the house if you left her alone for more than a few minutes.


My great-aunt lived with her children for over ten years and was a great joy to the family. She died quite recently, at home, but unlike my grandmother she failed very rapidly and only required extensive nursing for the last few weeks.


Some cousins of mine have simply moved in next door to their aging mother -- she still has her own house, but takes meals with them and they go over to clean for her at times.


I don't think this is a bad record. Or that those two who lived in nursing homes should have lived with their children.


I don't know how it is on average across the West, though. A good friend of mine did end up cooking and cleaning for her elderly neighbor, whos children would come by only very seldom and with hardly a word of thanks. And a lot of the old folks in the retirement home where my grandmother lived before she came to live with us would remark sadly that they hardly ever heard from or saw their children.


Surely the problem of displaced and neglected parents does exist. But I think it's a mistake to presume that it's completely widespread -- in a lot of cases, placing elderly people nursing homes is not neglect, but necessity. Numbers about how few elderly Westerners live with their families don't account for those who really do need the full-time professional care nursing homes provide, nor do they account for elderly people who can still care for themselves and live alone or with their spouses because they want to. The real question is, what percentage of westerners living in nursing homes could be cared for at home without putting enormous pressures on the family and requiring them to turn a family home into a miniature hospital? I don't know that number, though I would guess that it is far too high.

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