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American Culture and the Elderly
Family & Relationships / 3:10 PM - Saturday January 03, 2009

American Culture and the Elderly

An older member states "....remember what CULTURE you're in! Our society - the very society that created Hearst - doesn't value older, wiser, more experienced & educated people...."

This is the American culture. How many of you have seen your parents or grandparents put into nursing homes or assisted living establishments?
You justify this by saying 'they're old and this is what's best for them'.

You love them dearly, I don't doubt that, they are in fact your parents and grandparents. But you don't want to deal with them everyday.. especially when they get older and lose more physical or mental abilities. Bluntly, you want them out of the way so you can live your own life - nothing wrong with that.. in American culture.

In other cultures, specifically Asians, Italians, and Hispanics... they value their parents and elders. It's very common to see these families take in their aging parents into their households.

Why do you think you hardly see asians or hispanics in nursing homes or assisted living quarters? This is the American culture and as the asian/hispanic children who were born and raised in America age, they will adopt that culture and start placing them in nursing homes.

- Asked by Female, 29-35, Law Enforcement

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I have known most of my great-grandparents, and great aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents. My own mom is 80 years old now and not one member of our family has ever gone to a nursing home. I hope that never changes but you are right, it is the culture, I can't even imagine my kids not putting their parents out to pasture if the need arose!!

- Response by maryea, Female, 56-65, Retired

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I don't disagree with anything you've said in the least. My father's family was Canadian, and my mother's family is from the Midwest US. I was raised in the Midwest US among many Latin American and European families, and they have tremendous respect for age and wisdom. Since my childhood I've become friends with many Asians and they are exactly the same in this regard. I find it tragic that as people from these cultures intermarry with Americans they will lose this cultural perspective and value. I think the end result will be a general "dumbing down" of American culture as we lose the collective wisdom of our elders ... but wait, I'm pretty sure it's already happening!

- Response by johnmc, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 46-55, Indianapolis, Teaching

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funeral homes and nursing homes are an industry created in this country so like all else it pushes to survive
I have threw my life advocated for the elderly to be utilized as a valuable resource. About 20 years ago when I directed an after school program we invited a few people from a local home to come and participate. Because the elderly have been so removed from this society I think people just assume that they are incapable and have not had the oppertunity to enjoy the stories , the humor, the gifts offered from other human beings. The whole structure of family is broken down and we wonder at the depression,and other illnesses that come from not being a part of and having the support and love that a family can offer. As people are opening to spritiality I hope the begin to see the value of each being and also the value of letting others die there own deaths and opening to participating more in the natural life process

- Response by morningdust, Female, 56-65, Self-Employed

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To some extent industrialization produced this effect. Once multi-generations lived together or in close proximity to one another. The elders did exert some controls over the younger members....factories purposely set up conditions for those younger members to live outside of their family homes and paid them in such a way as to take part in social activities that were previous frowned upon without chaperone. This led to the abandonment of multigenerational housing and a new trend toward living within nuclear settings. New housing followed this trend as have social supports. It is often economically and environmentally difficult for most people to take in elderly families. Our own government goes back years to seize resources that might be utilized to do this type of thing. Everywhere you look from housing, to the economic realities of supports makes it a difficult option.
For example:
I haven't the resources to bring my mother into my home. She lives in another state and if she sells off her property, medicaid will seize the proceeds against back payouts on her behalf....so I would never have the option of rolling that over to use toward her care. My father's and her choices in life in regards to me have made me less financially independent as an individual. I suspect on some level they are reaping what they had sown.

- Response by joybird, Female, Who Cares?, Who Cares?

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