By Marcus Dysch
November 18, 2009
JC columnist Melanie Phillips has it spot on in a piece in the Mail today. She writes that too many British families are shovelling elderly relatives off to care homes and allowing the state to (supposedly) look after them, rather than putting in the effort themselves to do what is right.
How have we descended to this appalling state of affairs? The core reason is that in Britain, we do not venerate our elders in the way that other cultures do.
She is right. Jewish and other ethnic minority families are, probably, the exception. In years gone by it was commonplace for Jewish families to have one or more grandparent living at home. I’m sure in many cases it still is. Also for many Asian and African families in Britain, as Melanie herself touches on when she adds:
In Eastern, African or other Third World societies, or in European countries such as France or Italy, elders are not viewed as a burden or treated with contempt but are venerated precisely because they are old.
I know of two Jewish families, quite alike, in which two elderly relatives suffered from very similar health problems. One was cared for in a nursing home, the other in the family home.
The results, not only in terms of each relative’s respective health and happiness, but also for each family, were, and remain some years later, palpable in many ways - emotionally, physically, and even religiously.
The point regularly missed in yesterday’s coverage of care of dementia patients was that there is clearly no comparison between what the state can offer, and what a loving, understanding family can provide.