Where Fiji Friends from all over the world meet.
We have a difference of opinion with our Mum. She feels that when she'll be of a certain age, she wouldn't mind - to start off, at an independent living, then assisted living facility, when it gets to "that" stage, which is why she's all about us starting/building one back in the islands. We so - don't want to. It's miserable. We know - that it's selfish, but you have to admit, that if your loved one needs special care, then some people are of the mind that it needs to be in a space, away from children. We disagree. We took care of our late maternal grandfather, and loved every moment, not at all thinking it to be gross or weird or boring or traumatising. It's a cycle of life.
What our Mum never quite understands, is that we were part of a programme whilst we were boarding at a Private Collegiate for girls in NZ, where we'd fundraised everso passionately towards the Mary Potter Hospice (which was already a private high-end retirement living facility) with our peers to cater to residents who no longer had family or were from foreign countries - visiting (so that we'd visit them - as family), and we were also members of a group who'd adopted elderly veterans from WWII and the few surviving from WWI in the neighbourhood - as our grand-dads, for most of them had lost family, but were members of our congregations, at St Paul's Cathedral - Wellington and St Mary's - Karori. The juxtaposition between the 2, those who were living at the hospice vs the granddads who'd still resided at their homes, with us visiting them once a week to twice a week at the most, to do general cleaning, shopping and sometimes just for tea, to collect their mail, girl Friday and accompanying them to their appointments at the hospital, basically - granddaughter stuff, tended to fair a lot better than those at the hospice, despite the intensive care. Oddly enough, although they had activities and friends who were there at the hospice with them, they always seemed out of touch - lonely even - desperately so, where they'd be overtly happy to see us, when we'd visit, comparatively to the residing Granddads, who'd just shoot off orders like any other grandfather would lol or they're nosey - prying in to our private business with our boyfriends ... Very granddaddy Hahaha We wish the same depth and reaches of interaction for Mum, when the time comes.
So in a nutshell - we'd told our Mum - dream about it; You won't be institutionalised. It's 4 months per child, to variate your life, and to keep you involved and active. We're more in-law suite, detached unit thinking people. The parentals are with you, but with their own space and senses of freedom. They're not invalids by that stage, just aged :) :)
Tehana ... We understand where you're coming from. Granted, despite Fiji's Old Peoples' Homes' best efforts, it comes off as very subpar. You are driven to tears upon your return from any one of them, whether it's the Government-owned ones or the Church-run ones - you will cry. The residents subliminal communication to you - the visitor, is the obvious abandonment and neglect many of them face, even amongst Fiji's more comfortable classes. We don't know whether it's a lapse in security, but when we were back in the islands, we had to pick up a family friend's Mum on a fairly regular basis, on our return from MH Super Fresh shopping for groceries, to return an extremely senile woman, to the Old Peoples' Home, where she had been a long time resident, almost our whole lifetime at that time. That's just wrong.
It is from experiences like these, where you know that your parent(s) and your in-law(s), is (are) safer with you - seemingly under your nose, only not, if they're not so debilitated. Given, hiring help in the islands isn't expensive at all, still very affordable, hands-on family care and interaction should never fall short - locally. There is no excuse. If not hired help, there are always wekas who volunteer in exchange for room & board, whilst they're studying.
Those places just feel eeeeeerie. We'd pop over whenever we could to drop toiletries, magazines and sweet bites and fruits, sometimes to chat with them, where you'd get thrown at with food or hot liquid by those who had developed tantrums of some kind - which is a unique experience lol ... but all the same, it always felt as though the Spirit of Death roamed the corridors. It's kinda strange. The air is dank and hotty hot, dry to the nose, yet there are clear cold spots, which immediately send chills up your spine, down the shafts of your bones, with a touch of that Dettol Pine'oclean smell meets mothballs. Uh uh. No right thinking person would send their loved ones there - if they really know how odd the energies are. And night time's far worse, which we'd discovered upon returning our friend's Mum. She cried. She was scared. She preferred to roam the streets, then to be in her room. Oftentimes we'd sit with her, until she fell asleep - then we'd leave. But you know - it's very Fiji. The head manager was an Aunt, so she allowed us that respite, to prevent her from having another episode, disturbing the other residents, who were usually asleep already. Our familiar faces probably calmed her down.
Well that was our Fiji experience.
But still, we can't help but understand why some do opt for that service, for some don't have family and have gotten too old and sickly, and for some, their families simply don't have the space, and in their minds, they are actually providing the best they can. And that is sad. It's a toss between what is good and sensible over what is humane - for some. Realistically, the average person can't afford hired help or expert intervention at home. And many can't even afford "the luxury"of having their parents/in-laws cared for - professionally.
Thankfully, for those who do need it, the Government is intending to go in to modernised affordable Old Peoples' Facilities, only that it might not be available until 2040, when some in here will be needing the assistance and resources, usually for 55+, depending on their health status. Then again, that raises another issue, with professional care for some, it extends their lifetime.
For us - Old Peoples' Homes just aren't the way to go - personal preference. Sa sega tu ga. The plan is to be rocking it in 2040 Hahaha!
Having read yesterday's online dailies, we couldn't help but notice the article released by those who are responsible for St Giles Hospital, where there was mention of families not wanting to receive their now-treated relatives - we couldn't help but wonder how many of them were elderly citizens. A few years ago now, St Giles was known to have been the dumping ground for some of Fiji's elderly, when their families refused to care for them [Source: Online Dailies articles]. Fijians too we might add. [Kurekure-ing]. It was said that some families declared their elderly relatives insane with a seemingly supportive posse of supposed experts who were privy to and were enablers of what is nothing short of criminal, where perfectly docile and sane elderly people, were checked in. Some never checked out - back then. It was only when other members of the extended family through Church visits to the asylum, were then attentioned to it, was the gross injustice, then dealt with. Some of the elderly patients moved in with their still sane siblings. Accused of insanity (needing medication) and senility. When did senility become a crime? When was being an elderly - criminal? Disgusting!
Having said that, we are aware that at home care and even elderly care via some facility is expensive. Even the Father Law Home in Fiji, run and owned by the Catholics is a totally free facility, which is 100% dependent on donations. When one stops to consider that many of these facilities house 20 - 45 residents at most, you kind of ask yourself - "What of the others?" We like to think that as you age, and if you don't look after yourself as you should, you grow backwards, as in an elderly person of this nature, more or less demands similar care to a pre-toddlescent child.
We can't help but think of all the equipment you'd need to support such an adult. It's overwhelming. All the things to consider - If they're bedridden or wheelchair bound. You have to consider bed-sores - minimum, and if you're talking about bed-sores then it means you need a clinical launderette for it can not be washed normally - through the normal cycle of an average household machine. If a person is physically unable to walk, it doesn't mean that you - their relative - should not consider professional physio to work their muscles, so it doesn't atrophy. It's a lot to consider, and it is no wonder many back out, for they can't even look after themselves. Another statement declared by the Australian NGO was that many people veer off caring for the elderly because it comes down to a choice between - My Parent or My Child! Professional medical care for my parent or school for my child! Sad!
We were reading some research paper a few years back, by some Australian or some United Nations' Group, who'd stated that Fiji was different to the rest of the world, because generally native Fijians (i Taukei), tend to look after their own, and care in the home was such that the same gender carer, is either hired or acquired. The same was also mentioned in hospital care, when our elderly are checked in to hospital for some serious care. A same gender relative or the daughters or granddaughters become the primary carers, to assist the hospital staff. Now, we agree with the Fijian context and observation of our culture/people, but we would have to disagree that other races within our shores, who have become nationalised or were already localised, don't practice the same thing. Love and care are parallel and don't have racial lines.
ieee o robo cop tale qo
It is rather isn't it Kaji Moqe? :) :) ... We live in interesting times, where technology has finally caught up to sci-fi, only less invasive :) :)
Well, well - here you have it! We asked on the 7th of April, rolling with the thought, "Whyever did being an elderly qualify an individual to be categorised as (i) insane and (ii) criminal?" Yesterday's article attached here, will prove to be the resounding answer to our question, and will possibly curtail elderly abuse and neglect in Fiji.
Must also commend them for choosing 80 years as the opening age-aggregate! Kind of works hand-in-hand with all the verbiage about FNPF - Retirement and long life.
Decree for elderly by year end
Vinaka vakalevu Tehana@kedatou i Viti, sa rauta ga na wheel chair. It's vo levu indeed na wheel chair.
We come from a family where it was normal to see our younger brother as a teen, carry our maternal grandfather's sister up 3 flights and down the same 3 flights of our home during traditional gatherings, to include her, when she could attend. So yes, it is a matter of "What is your normal,"within the new Fijian norm. We as a community are more spread out then we'd ever been before -now, with our extreme economic brackets - Many thanks for your sensitivity.
Further to your discussion, we were just kind of rolling the idea of why many do opt for elderly care here in the US, where the middle-age is 55, is partially because of the laws that govern you, as the relative of the elderly person, where many much prefer to pay US$60K to a full US$1M per year for institutional care. Sometimes what you may purchase to protect them, can easily trip you up (you know - the coverages, where you need to purchase "protection" for your loved one and you from the help you hire) - if you opt for private care in your home - when the time comes (which is ages away yet still) for us. I ke, where we are, one is governed by the City, County, State and Federal laws, which is totally different to Fiji. Fiji's lucky in that regard, for any care is good care. Out here, it is not so cut and dry. They can assess your assets to determine whether you're giving ample care, or whether they are to categorise it - as neglect. For us "the robo cop" as Kaji termed it is a have-to more than a consideration when the time comes, for our Mum and our prospective in-laws, to support their independence. Thinking on that - e duatani beka for kedatou vaka-i-Taukei in Fiji, for if a family doesn't own wheelchairs, it's absolutely normal to witness - even our villagers - piggybacking or keveta vaka na peipei- any of our elderly to watch the others go about their chores, on any given day. We as a people are inclusive and almost coddle our elderly. We're good people that way :) :)