With an aging population, many Americans face the choice of putting their parents and grandparents into nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The multi-generational household in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory makes us feel nostalgic for a time when grandparents continued to actively participate in family life beyond their twilight years.
Previous generations would have felt guilty about getting rid of the elderly instead of keeping them in the same house with younger family members. At least, that’s the way we like to imagine the “simpler times” of the past. Of course, many of the multi-generational families of the real-world are the result of limited alternatives and poverty. Dustbowl families couldn’t afford to pay for a bed at an institution, and Victorian households hid the infirm in the basement or attic out of shame rather than compassion. Still, looking beyond the nostalgia for family togetherness filtered by our selective historical memory, there are real advantages to choosing in-home care for the elderly.
Both families and people who live alone often get pets for the added stimulation. Rather than housebreaking a feral cat, why not take on a grandparent with early onset Alzheimer’s? Healthy family members typically spread out to follow career opportunities, often living in different cities or states. Some medical conditions require a greater degree of care and supervision than the typical housemate, but you can hire an in-home care agency to send a CNA while you’re at work. They’re more work than a cat, and the elderly can sometimes be as aloof and spiteful as a feline, but you’ll still have the satisfaction of companionship. Petting is not recommended, but it’s a good idea to take grandma to the park for walks.
Wisdom of the Aged
It has long been an accepted convention of our culture, from chivalric tales to video games, that older people are generally wiser and more insightful. Life experience may not make it easier for baby boomers to use smartphones, but it might somehow give them cutting insight into life’s bigger challenges and choices. Like Yoda, more senior members of the geriatric population tend to have limited mobility and impressive insight into spiritual matters, even if the manner of speaking makes advice harder to understand and comprehend.
Most people love hearing and talking about themselves, and you can have more opportunities for both when you live with the trunk of your family tree. When Pappy tells about the way he met his wife, the story is…