What are we going to do about mum?

‘What are we going to do about mum?

Take a look at ‘What are we going to do about mum?’ Maori Television’s recent documentary is a must view!  You may very well be able to see yourself here and it could give some ideas about how you and yours plan for the future.

This thoughtful and compelling documentary follows three families in their journey as the Elders (Kaumatua and Kuia) struggle with the implications of increasing health problems. We see them exploring and utilising a range of options; the family rally around, home support services come in, respite care is used and in several situations residential care provides a solution.

One of the things that sets documentary apart, is that it is kind. It’s kind to the older folk, their children and the support services that assist. It also open up to the public gaze all the emotion associated with such situations. Family members give what they can, when they can and help is called in when needed. This documentary shows everyone working together for the common good with the care of their Elder at the centre. Appropriate residential care is seen as a way to enable the family to take care of all their members. It’s part of the families’ resources. What a breath of fresh air that is!

While the statistics in this documentary show 3% of Maori live in residential care it’s not that much more for Pakeha (generally about 6-8%, the incidence increasing for the very old). These numbers are very unlikely to increase. Government’s message is clear; older people will increasingly be living at home. Are we going to manage taking care of older people in our communities well?

While we are all living longer and living these years in better health, living longer also exposes us to the greater likelihood of deterioration in health. Not all older people of course have family, let alone family nearby to help. We know there are increasing demands upon people these days too, pressure of work, reconstituted families, and family members living overseas etc.. Similarly the practicalities of actually providing 24 hour care on one’s own cannot be fully imagined until experienced. They outlook could be grim; but let’s take another look.

The take away message for me (and the possible solution) is in the introduction “they say it takes a village to raise a child; perhaps it also takes a village to care for an elder, the problem is we just don’t live in villages anymore.”  No, we don’t live in villages anymore but most of us live in some sort of neighborhood or community so perhaps we can look at how we do ‘community’ and what constitutes ‘community’.  ‘Flying solo’ is just not a sustainable option!

Let’s begin by valuing our older people in the way that we value our children.

Tena koutou ki toku whanau; Te Whanau Gardiner o Tokaanu, Te Whanau Hawke o Orakei, Te Whanau o Pene o Dannevirke. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.

About Eleanor Bodger

Co-founder and visionary leader of Eldernet.

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