These past few months have been really stressful in this household. Yes, I live with my parents and my two younger brothers. It’s considered common, here, in Indonesia, for children to remain living with their parents until they get married – or in my case, until they get divorced and move back home.
Late October my father fell ill due to twenty-something years of dealing with Type 2 Diabetes. He got so sick from gangrene on his left foot that he had to fly back to Jakarta because he didn’t want to have his surgery in Zambia alone. It was by a pure miracle he made it back to Jakarta after such a long flight.
We took him to the hospital immediately, and the doctor said surgery was the only way out. They had to amputate one toe and remove 2/3 of the skin on his foot. The surgery went well, but due to his heart condition (he had bypass surgery back in 2001) he was forced to spend over two weeks in the hospital.
Now he’s still recovering. He needs crutches to walk, and he’s doing outpatient treatments every other day.
Just a couple of weeks after he came home from the hospital, my mother then fell ill. Her lungs were nearly fully covered with fluids. She spent a few days in Intensive Care.
It was trying times. We, the children, were, of course, scared, worried and tried to be there for our parents as best as we could. My two brothers were working full-time, and so was I. We took turns staying in the hospital to be with our parents.
When my mother was rushed into the hospital in the middle of the night, I just started a brand new job that was supposed to be very promising for my career.
Although my previous employer was much more lenient about family emergency leave. As a new employee, I understood that my new boss would be upset that I had to take a day off. I just didn’t know he would be THAT upset.
I quit my job.
And I have been fully taking care of both parents at home now that my mother – still recovering from her illness– is home, too. I’m on the lookout for a new job, but in all honesty, I can’t work with someone who doesn’t have a heart and who talks badly about my family.
Here, in Indonesia, it is in our culture that the children take care of their parents. A nursing home is not a concept that is widely accepted although there are families who practice that, including my own father’s. My grandmother (from my father’s side) refused to leave her hometown to come live with us, so she stayed in the town I was born. She’s now buried in the town that has been her home for many years.
My other grandmother, on the other hand, travels quite a bit. She was staying with one of my aunts until my aunt passed away a few months ago from cancer. Now my grandmother is with another aunt. Nursing homes here are mostly filled with elderly that have no family left. Personally, I’m not against a nursing home, but for my own parents, I wish to help to take care of them the best that I can. Assisted living here is not as widely advertised as in America.
Family ties are closely knit in Indonesia, especially for my own. We stick together. Yes, it would have been easier to have hired help to care for my parents when they were in the hospital, but we just don’t have the hearts to do so. It’s unnatural for us.
Children here are raised knowing that one day it is their duty to care for their aging parents. It’s an unspoken realization that one day, when our parents are old and sick, we, the children, will step in and take care of them. With a smile on our faces we have taken on the responsibility to repay our parents by taking care of them in their old age.
How is it in your country? Do you feel responsible to care for your aging/sick parents? Do you believe in assisted living for your elderly parents?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen of Indonesia from Tatter Scoops.
Photo credit to the US National Archives. This photo has no known copyright restrictions.
Maureen, The culture in india here is pretty much the same. Personally, I would take care of my parents, though I have nothing against assisted living. Yes, children here in India are also brought up such that they eventually take care of their parents.
But slowly nursing homes for elderly are also catching up.
Me too, my friend. It’s a sad thoughts but it’s one that is unavoidable for we are all getting older. I too would rather care for them myself. Thank you for sharing what it’s like in India.
How different life is in the Western world – or Australia more specifically. Nursing homes sadly are the norm and anyone caring for an elderly parent is not something you see very often.
I think close family ties are a good thing and I’m sad that it’s not a more excepted part of our culture. Well done to you Maureen for doing what is in your heart
Thank you so much Fiona, we just basically do what it feels right for our parents. It is a cultural thing I guess. My ex husband’s grandmother is almost 90 years old and living alone in her house and I admire her for her agility of being independent.
I had no idea you were going through all of this. Way to stay strong! My thoughts are with your family, and thank you so much for sharing your story. 🙂
Now in the US we have these really nice retirement villages and apartments. They can be costly, but it’s kind of like living in a college dorm all over again, but no tests! I think it is really giving many aging adults a new lease on life! This is not the same for every family in the U.S., but these are the types of places that my older aunts and uncles and my grandmother live.
Thanks so much Jen.
I’ve seen those retirement villages ads and it does looks very nice and I think most people there wish to keep their independent once they are in their old age and I fully understand that. Even my own father keep apologizing for being a burden while he was still at the hospital.
Great post and sorry to hear that your parents have been so sick. It is so different here especially because we are so spread out geographically. My parents live in Arizona while my in-laws live in Virginia. If one was very sick of course I would help out yet it is hard living so far apart. We do have a lot of assisted living homes in the US. My grandfather who is 96 lives is one in Texas near my uncle. Yet there is no way he can live with my uncle because he requires 24 hour care and nurse support. I would not want to live in one yet sometimes I don’t think there is a choice. Great post!
Thank you very much Thirdeyemom. I understand with families spreading out living their lives it would be difficult to practice what my family are doing. I do understand that as much as we love our families sometimes we have no choice and we all do things differently for them which I have nothing against.Thank you for sharing your own experience.
Here in Brazil things are similar – nursing homes are not widely accepted. My husband and I have both lost our fathers, but we often discuss how we will take care of our mothers as they are both near their 70s.
Hi Ecoziva, I think it all comes down to whatever works for us and our aging parents. Some would love to keep their independent and not becoming a burden for their children and opted to go tot he nursing homes, some would feel isolated and forgotten. I really think it depends on whatever right for our parents. Thank you for sharing your thoughts from Brazil. It’s so amazing to learn how things can be so common in one country and uncommon in another. 🙂
Tatterscoops, although I was born and raised in the U.S., my mom is from South America and the same holds true – I was raised knowing that one day it will be my duty to care for my aging parents. I have even told my husband that if his siblings don’t want to care for his parents when they get older, we’ll take care of them too. My family is very close-knit too and I honestly couldn’t picture it any other way.
Hope your parents are doing better now!