Growing old without a companion…

Did you read the recent article on growing old without a companion?  As the daughter of someone who lived to 101, Begley’s rather bitter perspective reminded me of my feelings about people in my mother’s latest years.  My mother was loved and admired by many people in her life as artist, mentor, and colleague.  But the older she got, the less people kept her in their lives, and I am – admittedly – bitter about it. 

I sometimes wonder why.  Fear of the future?  Distance in service of denial?  Unsure how to reshape the relationship?  No longer quite so necessary now that the “getting from” is different?   I don’t know, but I too sometimes feel bitter about the whole scenario.

This makes me think of another recent article about the shift from nursing homes to managed care at home.  It is the convergence of these two trends — longer life in some degree of solitude along with the shift to aging in place that begs attention to the implications of home care. 

Is it great to move away from institutional care?  Yes! 

Is it great that people can stay in their own homes?  Yes! 

But how to monitor the quality of that care?  Just your loved one and the caregiver.  Day in day out.  Day after day.  You could, I suppose, mount cameras.  But perhaps a more respectful approach all around – one that presumes the best in people rather than the worst – is a resource that supports both caregiver and person in care. 

If people are not going to grow old with their life-time companions, then at  least we can make sure that the companions who are there can get to know those in their care well enough to anticipate their needs and joys — that is – to really care for them. 

What do you think?  What’s your experience?  Share with us.

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