Thursday, June 21, 2012


One of the biggest sources of anxiety for the sandwich generation is their elderly parents. If you are in your 60s, your parents would probably be in their 80s. If they are still active, independent and in good health, you can count yourself blessed. As long as your parents are together, they can look after each other. But what happens when one parent passes on? Is the surviving parent able to cope on her/his own?

If your elderly father is staying with you, who keeps an eye on him when both you and your husband are at work? What about career women who are single? Your mother is alone at home all day. Do you worry about leaving her by herself for so many hours every day?

This is a situation that many of us now face. What can we do about it? Let's look at some of the options out there, and why for many, there is no choice at all.

Option 1: Have your parent move in with you and your family.
Why not?
  • "Our house is too small, and there's no spare room for her."
  • "My dad refuses to move from his hometown. He wants to die there in his own house."
  • "My mother says she prefers to be where she is - in familiar surroundings and with her own friends."
Option 2: Get your single parent a live-in maid.
Why not?
  • "We can't afford it."
  • "My mother doesn't trust an outsider."
  • "What if the maid ill-treats my mother?"
Option 2: Put your parent in a decent home.
Why not?
  • "We can't afford it."
  • "People would say we are not filial."
  • "My father refuses to live in a nursing home."
For many adult children, there seems to be no easy solution. So the elderly parent continues to live alone, and the family members are stressed out worrying about whether mom is ok when they call and no one picks up the phone. 

There are so many things to worry about when mom lives alone. Did she remember to take her medication? What if she fell and lost consciousness, or had a heart attack? What if she forgot to turn off the gas stove, or lock the front door?

Or worse, what if there is a break-in, and mom is hurt? These are very real concerns.

It is heartening to know that NGOs are coming up with workable solutions. The Befrienders of Singapore, for example, conduct regular house calls to make sure that elderly residents are fine. There are also community groups comprising neighbours and fellow residents in government housing areas who drop by to see if the elderly need anything. 

Not everyone can afford these services.
You can check out Love-On-Wheels, a mobile healthcare service provider at

In Singapore and Malaysia there are mobile or home-care services that offer nursing care for a fee depending on the level of care rendered.

Ultimately, it is an individual decision. Each family has to decide what to do with mom or dad. But just remember the price to pay should anything disastrous happen to your parent who lives alone.

One day it will be our turn to make our adult children worry about us. What will our decision be then? Will we have control over where we want to spend the rest of our lives?

My 86-year old mother is in a special home for dementia care. She is very happy there, and never fails to invite her visitors to 'stay there'. It's a long story how she ended up at the home. I shall write more about this in another blog post.


Pak Idrus said...

Lily thanks for relating this very important issue of our generation. I would want to continue to live in my own house.

Thank and do have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Pak Idrus, who wouldn't like to live in their own house when old. What is your reason of not wanting to live in children's house when circumstances forces?

Anonymous said...

Option 2: Put your parent in a decent home. - End of quote

Lily, is there REALLY any good home?
All are in it for the money!
Not only that, it costs a bomb to do so.
Actually, the young also have their financial problems in this inflationary world.
In fact, it's a no win situation.
Most people just take each day as it comes along.

Pak Idrus said...

I want to live in my own home and not just another house. In my home I have total freedom to think and do what I like and the way I like best. That is why as long I am healthy and able to think clearly I want to live and enjoy life in a familiar environment that I call home.

I am thanksful that my kids have bigger house but I still love my home. Only when you get to my age would you understand what I am saying.

Take care folks.

Unknown said...

Parents feel so lonely when their own children leave them.And they just have an option of going to an old age home.Seniors don't want any expensive things from their children they only need love from their surroundings,just love.

elderly care

Anonymous said...

My mother also suffering from dementia and now condition worsening and is now bedridden. Can you share which Nursing home you put your mother in?

Frankly, everyone knows abuse and mistreatment will happens in nursing home, but what choice do we have? The really good ones are probably way over what i can afford, so what can i do? Sometimes, it's not a matter of choice anymore. Choice is only for those who can afford it.

Unknown said...

Senior Care at Home is a good option. Most seniors prefer to stay at home because they feel comfortable, independent and secure in familiar surroundings.Their family can support by modifying the house as per requirement so that seniors can move around safely.A dedicated and trained home care provider can make a positive change in their life.Home care is also cost effective.