Something tragic happened to my mother in 2017 and I took a life-altering decision that many couldn’t understand but it was worth it after all. I didn’t want to take chances leaving her at the mercy of caregivers.
While at it, a few people opened up to me about how entrusting their sick and aged parents in the hands of caregivers exposed them to abuse and exploitation. These are few of the experiences they shared with me.
“I paid my over 90-year-old mother an unscheduled visit in the village. She had a caregiver who catered for her needs. As I walked into our compound, my mother was laying on the bare floor naked under the hot sun crying, while the caregiver’s eight-year-old son poured water on her and flogged her with a whip. I couldn’t believe what I saw. That day I decided against all odds to care for my mother by myself while caregivers assisted instead.”
–Mrs Jane E.
“I didn’t call to inform her I was visiting like I always did. I wanted to surprise my bedridden mother in the village after a long while. When I arrived, I parked outside the compound and walked in on foot. I met my mother eating food and her room soiled with urine and feces and stinking terribly.
Unfortunately, the food she was eating was cold with insects dancing inside the plate. She was actually given the same food she didn’t finish the previous evening, it was served from right under her bed, cold and in the same plate.
Her caregiver had no tangible explanations for what I walked into. I immediately called my siblings, made arrangements and had my mother taken to my house in Abuja. I would rather have a caregiver under my close supervision than my mother die of negligence.”
– Bishop A. U.
Another friend also narrated how the healthy beverages and expensive prescriptions and food supplement they sent to their sick parent on a monthly basis were cornered, sold at giveaway prices by their caregiver and replaced with cheaper products.
The caregiver even converted some for his own personal use as against the sick woman it was meant for. I can go on and on the horrible experiences people shared with me about caregivers.
It is unfortunate that we don’t have old people’s homes in Nigeria, even the few available ones we know, much cannot be said of their care-giving and nursing standard.
Although most family members don’t live close to their elderly parents, aged people are vulnerable, they get threatened, tortured and denied of their basic needs by those we pay money to help care for them, even family members are not left out.
While we are busy with our day-to-day schedules, taking time off work to be with our aging parents is difficult. Truth is that we can be productive at work while still giving our parents the care and attention we would love to give them.
Remember that loneliness, isolation and boredom are the most common issues amongst elderly people. It gets worse when they are sick or bedridden. You shouldn’t let the presence of caregivers take your place in their lives.
That you employ the services of a caregiver to take care of them does not take away the possibility of lack of satisfaction, excitement, or fun, as they might not have any social connections whatsoever with the caregiver, aside cooking, serving their food, cleaning the house and helping them sit-up or use the rest room.
Create more time for them, irrespective of your busy schedule. Their dignity, emotional, mental and physical well-being as they age and live out the last days of their lives should be of utmost importance to you. Ensure their daily living requirements are met effectively and consistently.
Living arrangements is critical to ensuring their well-being. Staying independent and aging in their own home is the choice of most aging parents. This would require several adjustments as well as supportive relatives and neighbours paying impromptu visits daily just to keep caregivers in check.
Aging is a part of life and most times you won’t fully comprehend the extent it affects them or how it will affect you. If they are aging in good health and living independently you may not feel any dramatic changes or concerns.
However, a time might come when the effects of aging will become more evident and long-term care may be needed. Caring for them shouldn’t be a burden or responsibility to bear alone, hence caregivers support will be needed, but they shouldn’t be left unsupervised.