Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Caring at home is too hard?

I just watched a segment of 60-70-80, a local TV program that focuses on topics relevant to senior citizens.  The subject was the care of disabled adults when parents are aged and after they have passed away.

The mother interviewed has a 25 year old son who shares an apartment with six others, disabled to a degree similar to him, along with several caregivers.

There ensued a discussion of  the parents' decision to remove their son from his home when he was eleven years old.  The mother mentioned the guilt she felt at the time. But she said that now she and her husband realize it was for their son's benefit.

"And this is not a rationalization", she added.

Now I am wholeheartedly for assuring parents that placing a child in a hostel is fine and understandable. But the interviewer crowned the move "a selfless act".

Please - let's not get carried away.

The mother described the wonderful atmosphere in the group apartment. Volunteers from around the globe and neighbors assist in caring for them. She noted that the other residents and the staff at the group home have in effect become the son's new family. She conceded a painful truth: those at the group home know her son better than she does.

The mother said their son spends every weekend at his family's home and those 28 hours reinforce her conviction that they can no longer possibly care for him on their own round the clock.
Curiously absent from the entire program was the central figure in this story: the disabled young man. Without so much as a photo of him, he remained an abstract concept.  But why? Was his appearance so revolting to the producers?  And is this any way to promote inclusion?

Finally, I'd like to remind the interviewer that the real selfless act is keeping a severely disabled child -at home.

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