Your loved ones are not OK

Sunday Blog 114 – 10th December 2023

So often I said this in the last few years – if I could ignite a community movement, it would be to remind people to visit their frail aged loved ones. Now I come to write this, I’m choked by my confusion, mired in my own hesitations. I sound impossibly self-righteous, tedious. What would I know, really? Aren’t families profoundly complex and shouldn’t I butt out, desist? Is this post the equivalent of patting someone’s pregnant belly without their consent? Or asking a new mother when she’s having her next baby?

But. Only this. In Australia where I live, we have set up our aged care system so there is no possibility of front-line staff being able to provide for our loved ones’ every needs. No matter how kind, caring, skilled, dedicated they are.

And really, it’s not their job. They provide personal care, including washing, dressing, feeding and cleaning up after our frail people. Somehow, we equate this in our mind with the full picture of caring. But this work is complementary to the care that only loved ones can provide. Family, or chosen family.

Remember how during Covid everything suddenly had to stop? Only caring couldn’t stop. Didn’t stop. We undervalue caring, even though it is vital.

As Rosalyn Carter, American writer, activist and humanitarian (and former First Lady) put it;

There are only four kinds of people in the world.

Those who have been caregivers.

Those who are currently caregivers.

Those who will be caregivers, and

Those who will need a caregiver.

Rosalyn Carter

She died on my mum’s 97th birthday just a few weeks ago. I didn’t know this until I checked the wording and origin of the quote. So it’s a sign I need to post this, that someone needs to hear this. Your loved ones need company, someone who remembers them in their fullness of humanity, before they were frail. So if you’ve been thinking about it, just do it. They will be glad, but perhaps you will be enriched and uplifted too.

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