Today care homes are looked upon much more favourably - although possibly not by the elderly - and caring for your parent at home is much less common. I suppose it's partly because generations no longer live close to one another and to take someone out of a locality that is familiar to him could cause unnecessary grief. And we live fuller lives for longer with outside interests. My grandmother cleaned, washed, shopped, cooked and spent the occasional evening in the local pub. That's all I remember her doing as I was growing up. Her life centred around the family, caring for her mother, her husband, her daughter and her grand-daughter.
For her to have put her mother in a home would have been unthinkable. In those days the only care homes were run by local authorities and although the emphasis had changed from the old work-house designation as a 'receptacle for the helpless poor' to cater for the care of the sick and elderly, many of the homes were located in old work-house buildings.
But by the end of the twentieth century 85% of care homes were privately run. Today some are purely residential, some are nursing and some provide a variety of care packages depending on the changing need of the guest.
In Wales local authority financial support towards care in a home is means tested; support for home care isn't. In 1990 the Community Care Act with its policy of deinstitutionalisation was passed, returning physically and mentally disabled to their homes for care. While this was justly criticised in some cases I'm sure that the majority of elderly would rather be cared for in their own homes, surrounded by their own familiar things.
It's almost impossible to go into a care home and not shrink at the sight of roomfuls of elderly sitting and staring into nothingness. That said, care at home isn't always the best: it's not a highly paid job and training for carers only seems to cover basics like how to lift and food hygiene - but not preparation so a carer can be employed who doesn't know how to poach an egg, a true example.
With the increasing ageing population we - meaning those of us in middle-age - perhaps need to be thinking seriously about what our choices or options will be. Studies have shown that communities that value and include the oldest generation are happier places. Maybe all new-build houses, except starter homes, should have to include a granny flat. But that might be too late for us: our daughter has always said she's going to keep us in the shed.
On a lighter note, here's the first Crocus of Spring in our garden. According to the plant almanac the meaning of the crocus is youthful gladness, a good omen for Spring and also what we need to develop as we age if we don't want to be grumpy old burdens!
This is my entry for ABC Wednesday and here's the link to find others. I think. (this is my first time for years and I'm a little confused!)