Sunday, February 27, 2011

Barbershops, Nursing Homes, & Parenting

I was at the barbershop today, waiting to get a haircut, when one of the men getting a haircut was having an interesting conversation with another man waiting to get his. The man on the chair asked a simple question: Why is it that a couple of generations ago, as parents would get older, they would move in with their children; but now, it is far more likely that as someone gets older their children will move them to a nursing home?

He answered that he had heard from someone an astute observation: It used to be that one parent would work, while the other would stay home to raise the children. As time has passed, however, both parents often work, and the children are often brought to a babysitter or daycare center to be watched during the day. When these kids grow up, while in the past they would do as their parents did, which is take care of their family themselves, they instead do as they were brought up: They outsource the care-taking to somebody else. The obvious lesson is that when it comes to parenting, keep in mind that however you treat your children is likely how they will end up treating you.


  1. 1. People are living much longer and needing more intensive care
    2. If both parents are working, no one is home to take care of the elderly

  2. People also have more money and can afford nursing homes and/or home care aids for their parents. That was not the case in the past.

  3. Diana - Agreed. I just thought it was interesting.

    Nephtuli - I'm not sure that people have more money, but I do believe that other factors play a role, such as Medicare, access to such services, etc.

  4. It is not a money case. My husband and I automatically agree that we will bring my parents and his parents to our home if they need help without any questions. It is depend on how much respect you have on them and family dynamic. My husnad have a grandmother in his parents' house who living there right now so it is natural for him. For me, I just have very highly respect for my parents.

  5. Trying to compare then and now when it comes to older parents is like trying to compare apples and roller skates. As was mentioned, people are living far longer now than in the past and those longer years of living can bring with them a whole host of physical/mental/medical conditions that were not seen or rarely seen in past generations. It's not a matter of respect per se but of what is the best for these aging parents and what services can be provided in a private home as opposed to a facility designed to have the necessary services on a steady basis.

    What is also more prevalent now is that 4-5 generations may all be alive at the same time, something that was rare in earlier generations. You may have elderly parents in their late 70s and 80s and 90s with children who are themselves growing older--late 50s, 60s and early 70s--and perhaps not as able to cope as they, too, are going through life changes, not to mention being parents, grandparents and sometimes great grandparents.

    In short, no blanket statement is possible or practical--what needs to be looked at is what is best for all involved, what is possible for all involved, and yes, what is practical for all.

  6. S&S - I don't know if that's quite the case; I know of plenty of families with extremely strong family dynamics who've still sent to nursing homes. Also, some people are better off not necessarily living together. I wonder if you're more inclined that way due to the strong support you got from your parents growing up?

    ProfK - Agreed in whole; I merely thought the idea presented was an interesting one, and in an interesting setting. :)

  7. Sometimes the parent does not want to live with the children for various reasons. There's that to take into consideration as well.

  8. My grandfather is living with my parents now, but that's only possible since the govt is paying for a 24/7 aid to care for him. Both my parents work full-time and it would not be possible for them to care for my grandfather throughout the day.

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  10. Interesting connection between 2 working parents and the effect is has on children's attitudes toward outsourcing care. I'm not sure that's accurate.

    But as ProfK said, there is no universal right or wrong answer and it's unfair to automatically cast those who do send their elderly parents to a living facility in a negative light.

    I think my wife's grandparents would have been miserable if they had to live in the house of any of their children for various reasons - noise levels, religious environment, personal space, and even level of care.

    They lived in nice place, had people of their age and similar religious backgrounds to speak to, classes to attend, and since it was not too far from their children, had ample visitors. But as sure as I'm glad they were to see the grandchildren, I'm sure they were also glad when they left afterward. Furthermore, nurses and staff are more trained to recognize signs of medical trouble, and provide care for mental disorders, possibly better than the children.

    It is easy to say that children of the elderly are simply outsourcing their parents care. Sometimes that is true. But not always.

  11. This is just anecdotal reasoning - people vastly overestimate the number of people going to nursing homes.

    Only 7.4% of Americans 75 or older live in one.

  12. Erachet - Agreed.

    Sarah - Understood completely. My grandmother lived at home until she couldn't, then moved to a nursing home. My other grandparents lived at home until moving to an assisted living facility.

    Wanna Saab - I don't know that it's accurate either, just thought it interesting; I certainly wouldn't cast those who put parents in a nursing home in a negative light. And agreed on your wife's grandparents, from what I know of them.

    And well put on the life available in a nursing home, and the knowledge that the kids et al will come - but also leave, and most importantly that the care is likely better (and certainly more accessible).

    JA - Interesting. I'm shocked that it's that low; I wonder if that includes assisted living facilities as well.