almost 75 years
live alone in my house, the same house where I used to
live with my husband and the house that my two children left
when they got married.
I have always been proud of my
independence, but recently it hasn't been the same as it used to be,
most of all, I think about my future. I am still self-sufficient,
but for how much longer? I realise that my
become more awkward, though many people still tell me; "If only I
could be like you at your age". Shopping and cleaning the house
are becoming more difficult.
And so, I think: "What will my
future be?". When I was young that answer was easy:
With my daughter, my son-in-law, and with my grandchildren. But now, how
is it possible with smaller houses and all the family members working? Just like
yesterday, today the answer is easy: the institution.
Everyone says it, it
is terrible. Everyone knows but they don't say, that no-one wants
to leave his or her house, and live in an institution.
I do not believe that a bed,
a locker, a cubicle and an anonymous life are better
than your own house, where every single object; a picture,
a photograph, remember have memories that fill the days.
Often people say: "We put him in a beautiful institution, for his
own good". They may also be sincere but they
do not have to live there. But this is not a necessary
solution to the problem.
Even if you donít end up in one of those
institutions you see on TV, where nurses mistreat you just because
they are frustrated with their job, I do not think an institution is not the answer to those
who are weak and most of all alone. Is it a real
way to overcoming loneliness, suddenly living with strangers, with people you
did not chose nor wants?
I am well aware what life is like in the
You want to rest and you cannot, because of the
noise, coughs and the different habits of the others. Elderly people are
said to make "much ado about nothing". But it is not
hard to imagine that you want to read and there someone else
wants the lights off, you want to see a programme and
another is on or the time is not right.
But it is not hard to imagine that
you want to read and there someone else wants the lights off,
you want to see a programme and another is on or the time is not
In an institution even the most banal problems
become more difficult; to get your daily newspaper, to
have your glasses repaired if they break, to buy what
you need if you cannot go out.
Often at the
laundry, your underclothes are exchanged with someone elseís and then you
cannot keep anything for yourself.
Maybe the food
is all right but you cannot choose what or when to eat. You
cannot choose when to get up and when to stay
in bed, when to switch the lights on or to switch them
off. And then when you are older, (and it is even more
embarrassing as you feel less beautiful than before) you are obliged
to share everything: illness, physical weakness, sorrows, without
Someone says that in an institution " you have everything, without
burdening anyone." But it is not true. You donít have all
that you need, and it is not the only way to burden your loved
There is an
alternative! I could remain at home with a little home help assistance.
This service already exists, but
it is more on paper that in reality. Every administration should
guarantee this assistance. Actually, we are many and we
could stay at home with only a little
assistance from the physiotherapist, the doctor, and
And it is not true that is too expensive.
These services are three or four times less expensive than
an eventual admission to an old peopleís home and an institution.
People say that abroad, the situation is different. Here in
Europe you may end up in an institution and it may
not even have been your decision. I donít understand why the deceased
personís will is respected, while you are not listened to
when you are alive, if you do not want to go into an
I heard on television
that millions of pounds are allocated to build new institutions
and organise 140,000 hospital beds. If I lived in a
hut, I would be happy. But I do have a house and a
bed, I already have my bed; there is no need to
build other kitchens to prepare my meals; you can use
mine. There is no need to have a big hall with other
people to watch television: I already have my television in my room. My
bathroom is working properly, and my house would require only
some handrails and wall handles, it would be a lot
What I wish for my future is the freedom to choose whether I want
to spend the last years of my life at home or somewhere
else. Today I do not have this freedom.
It is very difficult to take advantage of
the home help assistance, almost impossible: the
requests are many and the service is still too limited. But
if the home help assistance were more developed, and
everyone who needs it could have it, you could also
avoid building many new and expensive institutions, and even the hospitals
would not be so over crowded.
Though I am not young anymore, I
would like to say clearly that I do not want to go
to an institution and I do not wish it on anyone.
Help me and all the others to remain
at home, surrounded by our own things. Maybe I will live longer, certainly
I will live better.