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 Age Concern and Unconcern

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Age Concern and Unconcern   Sat 25 Feb 2017, 12:16

That the elderly used always to be a family concern and liability is commonly stated yet not quite true from what I remember of hereabouts. Very old people lived in small cottages throughout the area managing on very little but somehow managing. Some large house had aged spinsters within and rarely seen and a few people had very elderly living with them..... and from what I recall of those,  miserable lives. My mother spoke of many stair 'accidents' happening within  over crowded properties. Is family care a myth? There was a local hostel which was greatly feared and used as a threat to any aged who were querulous.  There were also several instances of old men who took to living in the countryside from Spring to late Autumn. I recall getting glimpses of some of these and also finding  'camps' in wooded places. Other cultures had more caring modes it is claimed......or did they?
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Nielsen
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Sat 25 Feb 2017, 12:48

According to readings or hearings - I've forgotten where, so not verifyable - Inuit in Greenland might when old - perhaps at around 40? - and probably no longer quite able to sustain themselves in food and dressing, in the hungry wintertime dish out their possessions, then go to the edge of the ice, and sit and let themselves freeze to death, so they were no longer a burden on the children and the 'bread'-  [or seal-] winners. 

This was considered honourable towards those who were left to keep the tribes alive.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Sat 25 Feb 2017, 13:45

In the society I grew up in this "family concern" translated for the most part into "daughters' concern" for parents. Men played a peripheral, if important, role in financing the care but it was largely a female initiative when it occurred, and not always entirely voluntarily such was the weight of general expectation that this function would be performed by them. Where it failed to function, and this was more often than the cosy view of the "good old days" tends to acknowledge, it was normally down to there being no daughter or similarly available close female relative or close neighbour of the younger generation to step into her place, or there was a daughter who risked no small degree of social opprobrium for having adopted priorities which precluded her from automatically becoming the full-time carer convention demanded.

However there was one fundamental difference between then and now when it came to what might be called a sense of community, or more exactly what social convention at the time expected of one within one's immediate community. There was a generally higher level of awareness of others within that loose definition of community, not a level that always meant much more than opportunity for gossip and the potential to irritate each other, but one in which basic things like a person's sudden absence, deteriorating health, or encroaching senility were picked up on quite quickly. In smaller rural communities this has persisted, but even in these places the social expectations regarding what one is obliged as an individual to do next have altered sufficiently to leave elderly people in a more vulnerable position than they once would have been in.

It is important to state however that the expectations of the elderly also have changed over time. At one point a person marooned in the sense that they did not have immediate family or caring neighbours (or neighbours they much cared for anyway) to assist them were inclined to apply individualistic solutions to their plight. These were not always as honourable and logical as Nielsen's Innuits (though this happened too), and there was no escaping the trap of loneliness, isolation and despair for many, but neither was there an automatic assumption that strangers in the form of officialdom would step into the breach. For many men the local pub proved a solution to most challenges of old age while they awaited death. For women it was harder. Nowadays both sexes are more inclined and informed enough to throw themselves at the mercy of the state, and in fact an increasing number simply do not envisage any other logical option. I'm not sure which set of conventions is better, only that in recent times it is certainly true that care and death of the elderly has become a much more invisible process than it used to be, and this seems to suit or at least match the expectations of everybody involved in the majority of cases.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Sat 25 Feb 2017, 17:29

Yes, of course, community awareness. I had forgotten - yet that was how I met so many of them, running errands, going with mother with shopping, getting the Dr to call and so on. We all did it for those who would accept it - several wouldn't. Different from your experience, nordmann, I am more pesonnalyaware of sons taking on a huge load where daughters backed off, though of course I know many women who remained single on the altar of devotion. Not so much now when 'they' ought do something about it. Possibly another generation with computer literacy will be better equipped to cope. many of the current helpless cannot do so in an online society. On a recent hospital visit -routine -  was amused to see how many ' game old birds' wore leggings or jeans, managed the check in panel and messed with mobile phones and who were certainly not ready for the overheated care home sofa chair and brusque handling to make them conform. 

As I once read it, Henry 11's wife Katherine  of Aquitaine hated her cloistered last days at Fontleroi Abbey. Given a  little dowager den she may have coped better - possibly far too well for comfort. Powerful women probably take enforced retirement worse than men. As the old queen Mother once said on her inhouse phone to her male staff, "Would one of you young Queens up there bring this old Queen more gin - and be fast about it."

The latter years of the once powerful might make for an interesting study; Napoleon's must have been miserable.

Sadly, the local pub has been takenover by youff. No old codgers nurse half a pint for hours by a warm fire  and dominoes aclattering. For one thing few live near a local pub and the old alehouses of that kind are long gone.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Mon 27 Feb 2017, 14:11

@Priscilla wrote:

The latter years of the once powerful might make for an interesting study...


Yes, indeed.

Even in old age Margaret Beaufort got the better of her hated rival, Elizabeth Woodville. The latter ended up, stripped of her estates and income, in the 1490s equivalent of a local council care home (albeit a very well-run one): Bermondsey Abbey. The King's Mother (her official title), on the other hand, one of the richest women in England, was still telling everyone what to do and how to do it right up to her death. (This tough old bird died after eating a dodgy young bird - a cygnet - that had obviously gone a bit off.)

Lady Margaret had organised both her son's funeral and her grandson's coronation: she died just five days after seeing Henry VIII crowned. No doubt everyone, including Henry himself, who was reputedly terrified of his redoubtable old Nan, heaved a sigh of relief.


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 27 Feb 2017, 19:18; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : A rogue full stop.)
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Tue 28 Feb 2017, 18:30

Welfare homes for some livelihoods appear to have been opened for a while - for fishermen, for instance. Now this is limited to support and advice. Licenced Victuallers  still have a dedicated site or two - a family member was many years ago a President of this with much fund raising for it - thereafter to move in  to its accommodation for a while. Dramatic arts people seem to have homes too..... I assume - perhaps wrongly - that  one had paid into a scheme. Homes for old soldiers may have opened long ago and there are several for wounded veterans and of course Chelsea Pensioners are  famous. On the Navy and Air force, I am uncertain. nor of  how other countries cared for ex service people - or indeed anything of the history of that sort of welfare only that  retired Romans pre Caesar were given land - especially round about Aix en Provence -  unwelcome locally either, at the time. 
For a while in Victorian and later it seems that there were charitable homes for the elderly opened for people who had been in service such as governesses and nannies. There was one of the latter still running in the 70's in UK because I know of a family who supported and often visited their old nannies in one.("She was closer to me than my mother ever was," is what I was told by one of them.) I recall ads in magazines such as 'The Lady' for donations to a charity for distressed gentlefolk  I used to wonder much about that one.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Age Concern and Unconcern   Tue 28 Feb 2017, 21:37

As Nordmann said earlier in smaller communities there is still the expectation that people will notice each other, and when I had my stroke I was visited by our lawnmowing man who is the president of the local Senior Citizens (which has 80 members in a town of 300!  though many of them are out-of-towners).  He told me he had been to visit 47 people that month. 

I remember as a child a family in our rural community where the man was high up in our local church, but whose wife I only saw once.  They had a handicapped daughter and she just looked after her.  Now such a child would likely be educated at our local school, who takes very disabled children right up to celebrating their 21st birthdays (disabled people can go to school here till they are 21 whereas I think the age limit for others is 19, though nearly everyone leaves before that).  Such families used to suffer quite severe isolation or their children did in hospitals or 'homes', but now it is much more open and acceptable, and people rally round to help. (Though sometimes with severely autistic children and adults you hear of very difficult situations where the state doesn't seem willing or able to help the parents much.)

I was brought up in a family with two older people - my grandmother as the woman of the family, and my great-uncle (on the other side) as helper to my father on the farm.  I am not sure what the arrangement was here - it seemed to be a symbiotic one - we provided him with a home and he helped with baby-sitting and farmwork.  I doubt that any money changed hands, though I don't know. 

I remember a phone call my father received that had almost in tears.  It came from a friend of my grandmother who lived with his two elderly sisters and must have been close to 80 at the time (early 1960s) and he was asking for work on the farm.  I don't know whether they were short of money or he was suffering from dementia.

I wish I could remember what I just read the other day about a charitable home for retired someones, but I have forgotten what, except that I hadn't realised there was such a thing.
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