As We Age: Reality check

How to grow old, the choice is in our own hands. We can choose to grow old gracefully, and live a healthy and joyful life. We can also choose to grow old miserably, and live a disgraceful life.

When we are old and unable to take care of ourselves, the truth may be more cruel than imagined. There may be situations that are out of our control.

01 Reality of a nursing home

When we grow old, some of us may opt to live in a nursing home where full care is provided. How is life living in a nursing home? Not long ago, a blogger released a video showing the life of a high-end nursing home in Shanghai. Is it as joyful as we thought?

In a not-so-spacious house, there lived four elderly people, of whom only the ninety one year old Grandma Wang could take care of herself.

The blogger learned from chatting with Grandma Wang that she has lived in the nursing home for two years.

When asked about the feeling of living here, Grandma Wang said: “Eat and sleep, sleep and eat, it’s like living in a jail.”

Meals are served at a fixed time. Breakfast at 5:40 am, lunch at 10:40 am, and dinner at 4:40 pm. The meals are almost the same every day.

In the entire nursing home, only three elderly people can take a walk in the corridor to get some fresh air. Most of the elderly can only lie on the bed and wait for the care workers to take care of them.

Since it happened to be dinner time when the video was taken, the video also recorded the meal session.

Except for a few family members who occasionally come to take care of the elderly for meals, other elderly people are basically fed by nurses.

One of the eating sessions of an old man in red was even more heart-wrenching. Due to difficulty in swallowing for a long time, the old man looks like a different person when he first arrived at the nursing home, and now he is weak and skinny.

When the old man tried to put the dentures in his mouth for eating, because his body shrank, he couldn’t stuff them in for a long time. Finally, the nurses helped to fix them.

When eating, the nurse complained that the old man didn’t like to eat. The nurse had just fed the old man a big spoonful of food, but before the old man swallowed it, he tried to stuff another spoonful.

The old man’s face was full of reluctance, and the visitor asked him, “Is the food not to your liking?”

He nodded.

This is a very uncomfortable scene. We always think that in the nursing home, the old people would be talking and laughing happily, but the real nursing home is not as perfect as we think.

Old people lying in bed are like newborn babies, but they don’t get the kind of care that babies have. Some of them cannot take care of their bowels, and the uneaten food flows out from the corner of their mouth.

From the video, we seem to see the cruelest truth in old age: when people are old, what they fear most is not their passing years, but their dignity.

02 Reality of Human Nature

With the progress of the times, people’s thinking has also undergone tremendous changes. More and more people have begun to dismiss the ancient concept of raising children to guard against old age, meaning old people depend on children to take care of them.

Many people now plan to save money to go to a better nursing home, which can not only solve the retirement problem, but also reduce the burden on their children. But reality is always crueler than imagination.

Not long ago, the news that a seventy three year old man’s eyeball was broken by a nurse in a nursing home went viral, triggering heated discussions on the Internet.

The old man lives in Dalian, and his son, Mr. Du, works in Shanghai all year round. Because the old man suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, he was sent to a well-known local nursing home.

Mr. Du said that this nursing home is not an ordinary nursing home, but a nursing home specially set up for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease. The monthly fee is 8,000 yuan, which is the highest fee range in Dalian.

On the afternoon of February 19, Mr. Du suddenly received a call from the nursing home, saying that the nurse accidentally injured the old man while changing his clothes, causing bleeding from the corner of his eye.

Afterwards, the doctor identified that the rupture of the old man’s right eyeball was caused by human force. On the doctor’s suggestion, Mr. Du reported it to the police. During this period, the director of the nursing home also called Mr. Du to persuade him not to call the police.

During the police investigation, the recording of a surveillance camera was discovered. When a female nurse was changing clothes for the elderly, the elderly did not cooperate. As a result, another male nurse rushed up and punched the elderly twice on the face.

Such a scene happened in such a high-end nursing home, which was really shocking and anger many viewers.

If this can happen to an elderly with children to fall back on, one can imagine what will happen to an elderly without children. Would he be bullied to death?

Another blogger shared the real experience of an old man in Guangzhou.

The old man is a native of Guangzhou. After divorcing his wife when he was young, he has never been married again and has no children. He has lived carefree for decades, and all his relatives and friends are envious of him.

Suddenly one day, the old man suffered from cerebral infarction and had no one to take care of him, so he had no choice but to go to a nursing home. He chose a top nursing home in Guangzhou, which has private rooms, specialized medical care, and an average monthly cost of at least 80,000 yuan.

He sold his house, plus his lifetime savings, and paid off all the expenses of the nursing home in one lump sum, about four million yuan.

Everyone thought that he would enjoy his old age in the upscale nursing home. What they never expected was that he passed away in the nursing home in just two months.

It was later learned that the nursing staff in the nursing home found out the situation of the old man and knew that he had no children and no one to visit him, so their attitude towards the old man was extremely bad.

The diapers were changed only when they were full, and the nurses complained when they wiped the old man’s body. Under such care, the old man suffered all kinds of bullying, his heart was full of despair, and finally died of depression.

As practitioners of life cultivation, we know that no matter how rich and brilliant we were once, when we get old and our health is gone, we will find that it is difficult to control our own destiny.

If there are children by our side, we have someone to rely on in our old age. If our children are not around, no matter whether we choose to go to a nursing home or hire a nanny at home, we will eventually have to face the complexity and darkness of human nature.

Someone once compared a nursing home to a gang hood. He even said that there was an invisible chain of contempt in it. Those at the bottom of the chain of contempt are old people without children. Because there is no backer, so they can only be at the mercy of others.

Some people say:

To grow old with dignity is a person’s greatest happiness.

But no one can be sure, when we are old and unable to walk, can we still maintain this dignity?

Is it possible to entrust one’s old age in the hands of a stranger?

Retirement is always a very realistic issue. When we make a decision, we should not be too idealistic, and we must think twice before acting.

Ni Ping wrote in Grandma’s Quotations:

Relying on mountains and mountains will fall. Relying on people and people will grow old. You try to rely on this and that, and finally, you realize that in the end you can only rely on yourself.

At any time, the sense of security is given by yourself, and only by yourself can you be the most at ease.

When we grow old, we want to spend the rest of our lives decently. We should learn to live our lives in certain ways. Let us explore those.

End of part one of a multipart series of posts.

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