Most people say they are “frightened” by the prospect of going to a care home. This emerged in a recent opinion poll:
The ICM poll found:
· 40% of Britons fear being lonely in their old age
· Two thirds of the adult population are “frightened” by the prospect of having to move into a care home;
· More than 90% said they knew they could not survive on the state pension and would need to rely on savings
Although most people said they care well for older members of their own family, the poll found 55% do not believe older people in Britain are generally treated with respect.
I suspect this poll is reflects some pretty unpleasant truths:
1. People fear being in a care home which, by definition, is away from their home surroundings, takes away their independence and removes them from friends and/or family.
2. At the same time, most people decline to save their own parents from living in precisely the same kind of place that they themselves would fear to go.
3. In many cases this is simply selfishness but it is selfishness that is made to appear OK to the outside world because the welfare state has made it ‘normal’ for people to put their aged parents into homes. So it is now ‘normal’ to send old people where they fear to go.
4. The welfare state has, in effect, made it a kind of ‘human right’ to be looked after in your old age by people who do not know you and to take you away from all you know and love.
5. A way for caring for the old age that originally was probably a last resort has been changed into a first resort.
6. Middle aged people are relieved of the duty of looking after their parents. But then, of course, they find themselves old and find themselves in the same unpleasant position they put their parents in.
Of course it is true that some old people appear genuinely to wish not “to be a burden”. But they are making a sacrifice in saying so. Becoming old surely does not mean one loses the desire to be with family or friends and familiar things.
I know of several people who died not long after being admitted to care homes. I wonder if anyone has done some research into whether life expectancy is reduced among those who enter care homes (comparing them, of course, with others of similar health and age). I suspect this is the case. I accept, too, that some people are quite happy in care homes and make friends. However I have been to some of what are said to be the best. They are, by their nature, pretty depressing places. People spend hours alone in their rooms, often slumped watching TV. Mealtimes can mean a group of very old people seated around a table in silence. Some places organise entertainments. Many good people do their best. But these are not genuinely happy places.
Care homes reveal our society being hypocritical and selfish. Vain, too. The poll showed that people like to think that they themselves are doing well by their parents. It is just ‘others’ who are letting their parents down.
The story in the Guardian is here.
- How did the welfare state damage the character of the British people?
- Charitable work for the dying. How much should the state pay?
- The welfare state makes us less happy
- Should not children take prime responsibility when elderly parents can no longer look after themselves?
- Home schooling is growing fast – but why?