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Treatment of the old

(34 Posts)
smike Sat 25-Feb-12 21:15:22

Hi it always strikes me as being somewhat hypocritical that on Facebook,
lots & lots of people are wringing their hands & wailing about deceased
parents & how much they are now missed.
Perhaps if they had given a little
more care before hand, they might not feel so guilty after the event.
A spin off to that would be perhaps less ill treatment of old people in care, being highlighted every single day.

Well its a thought & it needs saying.

bagitha Sat 25-Feb-12 21:38:00

Is it guilt they are feeling, smike, or grief? Just asking.

Carol Sat 25-Feb-12 22:04:07

Personally, I don't post very much on Facebook, but do like it because I can view some family photos that are shared between a small group of us - I don't generally hold with baring all your life on there. However, recently my view about how many young people use Facebook has altered when I saw the lovely tributes that grieving young people posted for a loved one who had died unexpectedly, and work mates, friends and siblings used Facebook as a central point for them to express their feelings and share their distress in a way that allowed them to be open with each other. Some of us could learn from the way these young people wrote about their thoughts and feelings. When we all met up for the funeral, and I learned about the ways that they had helped each other and the family, it was clear that they already cared and had done much to show it. We are learning that social networking is another facet of the way we communicate and socialise, and it doesn't replace close contact - it enhances it, in many instances. Same goes for mobile phones and texting - it's what they do nowadays.

Before Facebook, there was talk about the 'Friends' generation of young people who had learned from that programme how to express their love for each other. I watched my (temporarily) sulky uncommunicative children turn into loving friends who wanted to express their feelings to each other, but not necessarily to parents who want to hug them at times they don't want to be hugged, especially in front of their mates.

These phenomena are not the norm for people of my generation, but I am gradually buying into them because I see they aren't harming people who use them responsibly - if anything, they can be a positive influence. That's probably why social networking is so successful. It's their way of hanging out with each other when they are not together.

It may be that some people are hypocritical about posting tributes to deceased people they never made an effort to help when they were alive, but I hope they are in the minority.

Greatnan Sun 26-Feb-12 07:40:43

What a thoughful post, Carol.
I suppose some people do get some comfort by arranging a large, showy funeral for their deceased parents,but the cynic in me suggests that the amount of expense could be in inverse proportion to the time given before death. In the North of England, some families would take up a whole page in the local paper with tributes from individual members of the family, with photos of the deceased.
I have never been a hugger and kisser - it was not the way we were reared - but I do enjoy getting a hug from my grandchildren and being told 'Love you, Nan' on the phone. I am less enamoured of having to do three kisses on the cheek with virtual strangers here in France. The number of kisses varies by area too, and it can be important to get it right!

Carol Sun 26-Feb-12 10:01:32

I think when it comes to hypocrisy, we have to look beyond the young people who post on Facebook.

Years ago, when working with homeless people, I would see an elderly man we called 'the colonel' who would come into the day centre for food and warmth during the day, as he wasn't allowed to stay in the Salvation Army hostel where he slept in a dorm at night. He mentioned to us that he was frightened of going back there, and we wondered if he was being harrassed or bullied for the little money he had. We spoke to the managers there, but nothing happened, despite further requests, and a couple of weeks later he went missing. He was found a few days later in the basement of an old building, where he had fallen and contracted pneumonia. He died in hospital. At his funeral, paid for by the city council, attended by a few us from the day centre and conducted by the Salvation Army, we were not allowed to take his coffin in the church, but had a graveside service that lasted an hour and a half, during which time my anger increased until I was ready to burst. How dare they spend all that time on a burial and not give him 10 much needed minutes during his life?

That 'show' of sending the deceased into the afterlife was the ultimate hypocrisy for me, and seeing false displays of grief reminds me of that unhappy time.

bagitha Sun 26-Feb-12 10:16:37

carol, from your post: "we were not allowed to take his coffin in the church"


Greatnan Sun 26-Feb-12 10:18:12

Why were you not allowed to take the coffin into the church, Carol? I know people who had committed suicide used to be denied some religious obvservances, but what had this old gentleman done wrong?

Carol Sun 26-Feb-12 10:24:24

He had done nothing more than not be kept in cool conditions until his burial, poor man, and you can work out from this that on a hot summer day there was more concern for the noses of the clerics than there was for this lovely man's dignity.

Carol Sun 26-Feb-12 10:27:59

Just to add a little tribute to 'the colonel.' We had a uni student working with us, whose father was a retired general and heavily involved with SAAFA. He asked permission to canvas the homeless men to see if any were entitled to some support from SAAFA for clothes etc. Several were and we got a lot of help. When the student approached 'the colonel' to ask him if he knew of SAAFA, he put his hand in his pocket to donate money!!

kittylester Sun 26-Feb-12 10:44:02

Oh Carol how sad and moving.

bagitha Sun 26-Feb-12 10:56:45

Are coffins not airtight, then?

bagitha Sun 26-Feb-12 11:12:36

Well, I guess that one wasn't. At least it is a practical reason for not having the coffin in the church and not something silly, which was what I feared.

smike Mon 27-Feb-12 15:14:31

My remarks were not particulary aimed at the very much younger end who use facebook, but more at the middle aged generation, & is based on my own observations taken over my own longish lifetime, to which I have added the frequent stories of ill treatment in care homes , & hospitals.
My point being that if the" children" looked after the interests of their aged parents, by doing no more than visiting more frequently, then there would be far less of the sad case's in the press.
This in itself would lead to a more rounded view of having done one;s best, while they were alive.
As for so called social net working, just how can one have hundreds, nay thousands of friends ? it surely gives children a wrong misguided idea of just what a real friend is all about.

Carol Mon 27-Feb-12 15:49:06

In general, people don't tend to have thousands of friends of Facebook, and I would struggle to categorise which groups of people who are the ones that have hundreds of Facebook friends and also don't care in real life for their elderly parents, or ensure they visit them in their care homes. I have the same limited view as others, from my own experience of Facebook, and the middle aged people I am friends with tend to have only a dozen or so friends on there.

My children and their friends know how to distinguish real friends from acquaintances, and some of them comment that you can't tick an 'acquaintance' or 'workmate' box to separate friends and relatives from casual acquaintances, but you can separate relatives into aunt, brother, father etc.

I agree is it sad if some people cannot tell real friends apart from casually known people. I remember when I was young, we were never allowed to call anyone but blood relatives 'auntie' or 'uncle' and casual use of such terms was frowned upon.

We do need to give young people credit for being able to express care for their real friends and relatives, and to be able to tell who would constitute a true friend - it's all part of growing up - we had to learn for ourselves, too.

It would be interesting to know more about the sad cases in the press, and which newpapers they were reported in. Some papers sensationalise and exagerate stories, and give the impression that society is breaking down. We see just as many stories about families who have gone to the ends of the earth to help their relatives and get resources that are being denied them by the authorities, and their stories are brought to the press by those very relatives, in order to shame the authorities into getting their act together.

Mishap Mon 27-Feb-12 16:29:48

After I retired from social work, I used to read the obits column in the local paper with a rueful smile, as so many of the "much loved and missed" individuals were the same ones whom the relatives had told me they they hated and did not want anything to do with!

smike Mon 27-Feb-12 22:13:43

In the 1930s we were taught to treat our elders with respect, stand up in class when any person or teacher entered the room.
To give up our seats on bus or train, with out prompting.
To say please & thankyou, & that attidude carried over into our teens, & adulthood
When where you offered a seat on a bus ? let alone a train.
Nurses treated the sick, & cleaned it up, they may not have known how to use a computer but they could clean up a patient, & would have been ashamed if a visitor had to do the job,
However we did have typified hero's held up as good examples.
Who can the young really look up to now,?
As for friends if you can have 3 really true friends in your whole life, then you have done very well indeed.
I do fear that so many people get confused between a true friend & an aquaintance, there is a world of difference between the two.
I will now retreat once more into my shell.

bagitha Tue 28-Feb-12 06:37:43

In the 1930s, it would seem (I wasn't there so I'm just going on what you say, smike) that kids were given a lot of rules to obey. Obedience and subservience are not the same thing as respect. Seems to me that every generation complains that the generations after them are not as well-behaved as they were. Yeah, right.

And anyway, if it is true (I don't believe it is) whose fault is that?

Answer: The older generation's, whose responsibility it was to raise the younger ones with good standards. confused

Greatnan Tue 28-Feb-12 07:34:48

In the 1940's I witnessed brutal corporal punishment in my junior school - it is possible to get good behaviour if you terrorise children.
When I was teaching, I saw teachers treating children (especially my remedial classes) with total lack of respect.

The right wing press would have us believe that all young people are 'feral scum' whereas in reality most of them are just trying to work out how to pay tuition fees, get a job or find affordable housing and deal with their emotions.

It is amusing to hear Cameron lecturing the young about excessive drinking - of course, that only applies to 'the lower classes', as the members of the Bullingdon Club are just showing 'high spirits' when they trash restaurants.

Plato was complaining about the young in the 4th Century BC.

Carol Tue 28-Feb-12 07:34:53

We were sat around my kitchen table talking about children's heroes and role models, just before Christmas. My nearly 12 year old grandson looks to parents, teachers, grandparents etc to be his role models, and he said that his heroes are people like Professor Brian Cox, Stephen Hawking, Chris Packham, J K Rowling and fictitious characters like Harry Potter.

The adults in this discussion remembered famous people who have, in recent times, been criticised for their failure to live up to the hype. When I was young, we were taught about famous explorers and missionaries who were heroic, but now their motives are questioned.

I think we have plenty of heroes that children can look up to these days. Watching annual ceremonies like the Pride of Britain awards, in which heroic acts by ordinary people are commended, shows us that we are still the same today as we were a couple of generations ago.

Some older people do remember the past with rose tints, and forget that the previous generations would have been bemoaning a loss of standards in the young. The ready availability of information and publicity highlights all that is wrong with society now - after all, how many times do we say that newspapers wouldn't sell as well if they just published the good deeds and altruism of neighbours and communities, instead of scandal and conjecture?

Greatnan Tue 28-Feb-12 07:37:16

Carol - we posted at the same time. I agree with everything you say.

JessM Tue 28-Feb-12 08:01:36

Smike things were not all rosy in the past were they? Things were a lot worse in many many ways.
I have just been reading The Road to Wigan Pier - a firsthand account of the terrible living and working conditions that were common in poor areas in the 1930s. I have moved on to Call the Midwife which is much more hard hitting than the TV series about life in the East End in the 1950s.
If you go back to Dickens, he highlights that hypocritical behaviour was common in the 19th century.
As society changes there are inevitably things that we think are getting worse, but there are many, many things that are better.

Annobel Tue 28-Feb-12 08:20:47

One of my 'heroes' as a child and voracious reader was Just William. I think most of us hanker after that kind of anarchic approach to life, though, perhaps fortunately, we rarely achieve it! I think my youngest grandson is practising to be a William, or possibly already is.

smike Tue 28-Feb-12 21:21:10

No things were not perfect in the 30s either before or after, & I never suggested that they were.
It has to be remembered that life was very primitive,(by the standards of today) just think about what they did not have that we now take for granted.
Wholesome water, flushing toilets, hospitals, internal combustion engines, piped sewage, free education, with out mentioning any apps?
In the early 1900s hanging was prevelant, both my grandmother's as girl's went to a dame school, for which they had to pay 1d old money, no money no school!!,
And yes I can recall using an earth closet right up to about 1940.
There were no benefits in those days, if you had no work, or income then it was parish relief.
However people looked after their own aged relative's, if only because there were no such things as care homes
So yes it was hard & life was cruel seen from todays,standpoint but it has to be remembered no one knew any better then
It is to be expected that things will improve, my point was that people do not look after their relatives as much as they used to.
because if they did then there would be no need for age concern to run a huge campaign, to try to institute a change of attitude in the state looking after the aged.
In closing when can you recall anyone giving up a seat for a elderly person on a train, or a bus, no longer a norm is it?

Annobel Tue 28-Feb-12 21:41:49

A year or so ago I was on the Tube and then the Dockland Light Railway. For reasons I won't go into, I was carrying a folding seat - shooting stick style - that looks a bit like a tripod walking stick. Lots of people leapt to their feet and offered me a seat which I gratefully accepted although I felt a bit of a fraud because there was nothing at all wrong with me, apart from my silver hair, of course...

Carol Tue 28-Feb-12 21:48:02

Oh dear, you're not going to like my post Smike because I frequently see young people giving up their seats for the elderly on buses and trains/trams here in Manchester, and it certainly is the norm.

I agree that people don't look after their elderly relatives at home as much, although many want to, and in my family we are caring for someone between us to ensure they don't go in a nursing home or hospital. In the past, a lot of neglect and abuse of the elderly was hidden because they were being 'cared for' by relatives at home, too - so I'm not sure that having that as the norm was always the answer, either.