Yesterday I became unintentionally entangled in a Facebook argument. To summarise the argument which raged all day long a friend went for a blood test. When he arrived before 7am (they opened at 8am), because he had to get to work asap, he was already something like 9th in the queue. All of the people before him were very elderly, and one could therefore assume retired. He questioned why they had gone so early in the day, when they had all day to do so delaying others, with jobs to get to, in the process.
I’m not going to relate all of the responses, but they were the usual mix of puerile jokes and serious comments. That was until someone posted that we should all be ashamed of ourselves for talking about the elderly in derogatory terms as we will be old one day too.
My response earlier that day had been that perhaps these old folk had some type of dementia, the (valid) reasons why it could be dementia, but agreeing that it was annoying to be delayed in this way. Should I be ashamed by that?
I went back to Facebook and explained that, on a daily basis, I care for a 79 year old man with dementia. I greatly respect this man, but his age and illness do not mean that he can not be irritating or inconsiderate and I may not find him annoying.
Apparently I should know better because I am a carer!
Why? By caring for someone do I have to discount my emotions and opinions? Aren’t I allowed to feel a negative emotion at any time? Does becoming a carer transform me magically into Mother Theresa? I don’t think so.
Did the person I care for become perfect when he became ill? As he grew older did he suddenly become considerate of all those around him? By being elderly does he acquire rights and courtesies that should not be extended to the rest of the population? I (and his other relatives) don’t think so.
I was subjected to the ‘they fought for this country‘ reasoning. I am grateful to those who did fight during the Second World War alongside many of my relatives, some of who lost their lives, but unless they were over 90 years old that is now unlikely. As I relayed earlier I was told ‘You’ll be old too one day‘. Hopefully that’s true, but will that be an excuse for me to inconvenience others. No! Another response: ‘You represent all that’s wrong with this country today!’ I expect politeness and consideration of others?! Is that wrong?
I felt singled out and attacked as a respondent because I admitted that I look after someone who is elderly and infirm but I can find him annoying from time to time. Does this affect the way that I look after him? No it doesn’t. He needs to be looked after, and yes, sometimes his illness makes him say or do crass things but, equally, sometimes it is all him. I have a right to feel annoyed. I don’t have the right to mistreat him as a result of that emotion, but I can feel it.
If I had posted that my children had done something stupid which had inconvenienced others, but there may have been a reason for their actions, and yes I could understand others annoyance at them, no-one would have batted an eyelid. In fact I suspect I would have been praised for being such a fair-minded person. So what is it about being a carer, or dealing with the elderly, that means that you must discard negative feelings?