Remembering mom


Remembering mom

On Sunday, Mother’s Day will be observed in Canada  and many other countries around the world.

But for many in our own Caribbean community here in Toronto, it will certainly not be a time for celebration. Many of our elderly mothers have been neglected and abandoned.

It’s a situation we do not like to speak about. We do not even like to admit that it exists

But today we will focus attention on the growing problem of the abuse of our elderly parents, many of whom have been dumped in nursing homes and forgotten by ungrateful children.

Unfortunately, many of us are so busy with our day-to-day activities that we never find the time to visit a nursing home –  an institution where we may eventually end our days.

But a visit to such a place could be an eye-opener for those concerned about the welfare of the elderly in our community.

In our own investigations we have discovered some lost souls in nursing homes who cannot remember when last they  saw or heard from their children.

Of course, some will  visit their mothers in nursing homes on Sunday just as they did on Christmas Day. They may bring beautiful bouquets of roses but will not remain long enough to see what life is really like at such an institution.

They will not hear the cries of the “old lady” as she calls out for help while in pain – help which may be long in coming or never arrive.

They will not know how long mom has to remain in bed with wet or soiled clothes before she gets attention from one of the busy attendants  who is supposed to be keeping her comfortable.

They will not know if the nursing home staff is taking enough time to feed those who cannot fed themselves.

We have been hearing horror stories about  residents of nursing homes who have been assaulted by other residents and staff.. Have we been checking to make sure that our moms in these institutions are safe?

Those of us from immigrant communities who used to look after mom “at home,” may not fully realize that the treatment of the elderly in the comfort of their own homes is not quite the same as the treatment by strangers in an  institution.

We have also heard from many elderly moms in nursing homes their cries of loneliness.

Many of them came to Canada to look after their grandchildren while their sons and daughters went out to work.

So many who “used” their mothers as  maids and babysitters did so as a matter of convenience.

But when their grandchildren grew up and was able to fend for themselves, these unpaid babysitters found that they were unwanted.

Many of these moms had their own  homes and were respected in their communities in the Caribbean.

But in Canada they  are not as independent as  they were back home and are often friendless.

Many of our elderly moms are ending up on the scrapheap.

Many who came to look after their children’s children now need to be looked after themselves.

Clearly, the problem of aging in the Caribbean community in Canada requires greater attention.

A  visit to mom in a nursing home on Mother’s Day or Christmas Day or her birthday is not enough.

We are aware that are programmes already in place for elderly citizens in the wider Canadian community.

But that is not enough.

We need to take a hard look at the situation and  design programmes specially for people from our own Caribbean community.

And let us not forget: We are all getting older.