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Bulawayo Help Network newsletter - Issue 09
Bulawayo Help Network
October 09, 2013

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The daughter talk

“Age is not for sissies”, so one of the 1950s glamour girls is reputed to have said in her latter years, and it’s true. Ageing is a huge challenge, particularly in a country where we have always coped. Coped with sanctions, the struggle for independence, fuel shortages, food shortages, trillion dollar inflation, and children leaving for greener pastures. We are a nation of “copers” so when our coping mechanisms no longer cope, it’s highly disconcerting. We are not used to being cared for or have others taking over our lives.

Of course, this makes it difficult for family and friends of the ageing person who is visibly not coping but simultaneously resisting all offers of help and advice.

I now have “The Daughter Talk” which I could say in my sleep and probably has little effect but it goes something like this:

DAUGHTER: So Mum, how are you doing?

MUM: I’m fine, just fine. Although I had a big problem when the geyser element stopped and it took forever to get a spare. Then of course the neighbour’s tree fell over onto my carport roof and I can’t get him to fix it. It’s very stressful.

DAUGHTER: So do you think it’s time to downsize and not have to worry about all the maintenance of a big property and house?

And then come the most intriguing string of reasons as to why Mum can’t possibly leave her big, stressful, rundown old family house, and they sound something like this:

It would be so noisy with neighbours right next door (and this coming from a particularly deaf Mum),
I’m very independent you know.
It would cost me more to live in a complex than if I just stay here.

It behooves all of us to approach our old age with a degree of rationality and forward planning but in reality underneath all the excuses for not moving, not downsizing are layers and layers of FEAR. Fear of change and of the unknown.

Like most things in life, it’s all about timing. In our experience, people should have a plan, a decision or even made the move no later than 70 years old at which age, they still have the capacity to make decisions and choices and remain in control of the process. Once you get to 80years it’s pretty much too late as the thought of packing up and moving becomes increasingly overwhelming in the face of diminishing capacity. We have to tread gently with our parents, relatives, friends and selves but avoiding the issue is not an option either. GOOD LUCK!

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