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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Continuing life as a widow...

My father passed away on the 25th of August 2009. It was the first week of Ramadhan. Alhamdulillah he was taken away peacefully in Kuala Terengganu Specialist Hospital.

Now my mother is left alone. She went through the “edah” period [4 months and 10 days] without much problem. During that period, she just stay at home. Went out a few times for some urgent matter. Her time was filled with reading Quran, religious books and having visitors (close relatives and her female friends). She has six children: Two sons and daughter in Selangor, another two daughters in Seremban and Kuantan. Only one daughter lives nearby to her (20 minutes drive) and has volunteered to stay with her.

The above scenario, is not uncommon. With the increasing life expectancy, better health care, people live longer. Women have a longer life expectancy compared to men. That is why the ageing population (especially those 85 and above) is sometimes called a population of the widowed.

The issue of continuing life as a widow is related to matters such as: whether the elderly woman has a good social support, what is her health status, what about her income to support her daily needs, is it save for her to live alone etc.

Some elderly prefer to live alone. Studies have shown that elderly do not want to be a burden to their children. Are they a burden to us?. This is the kind of scenario that we have been facing not only now but for ages. I remember a few cases, when I was working as a houseman in 1987. Parents admitted for stroke. Treated in hospital for several weeks. When stabilised,to be discharged home. The moment doctors or nurses tell the family member that patient can be discharged, a decrease in the number of visitors start to occur untill to the point of no more visitors. Visitors become uncontactable

Nobody wants to bring them home. The outcome of such situation could be: …they are taken home by a daughter (daughters are commonly taken for granted to be the carer); or nobody turn up and at last sent to the welfare home or just left in the ward.

Some elderly widow rotate to stay with their children. This kind of arrangement is good but depends on how much elderly parents can telorate their children, daughters or son in law, grandchildren and not to forget the maid. Some just stay with one particular child whom she can tolerate most.

Whatever the arrangement is, as children we must NOT FORGET that one mother can take care of ten children but ten children may not be able to take care of one mother”.

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