Nowhere in the framework of society is the breakdown of the family more evident than with the aging. With the need for two incomes to support the family, no one is home to care for the elderly. The solution to one of the most perplexing issues facing a family has been found.
“In the U.S., nursing home chains have flourished since the 1970s, subsequent to the passage of Medicare and Medicaid and the extension of public payment for nursing home residency.“ — Light, D.W. (1986). Corporate medicine for profit. Scientific American 255: 38-45.
This act has completed the acceptable end of life drama for many households. The painful and depressing disposal of the elderly in a satisfactory and a seemingly compassionate manner has now become a reality. Family members can wash their hands of the sick and dying, delivering them to the care and comfort provided by others, paid for, to a large extent, by the government. The next of kin can now pursue their selfish endeavors cheerfully and guilt-free.
The degree of disintegration in families was readily apparent when I attended a Family Council Meeting in a nursing home; a meeting of relatives and responsible parties to discuss the care and comfort of a loved one put away in a long-term care facility. These meetings are held at regular intervals throughout the year. It gives family members an opportunity to meet with the administrative staff, presumably to air out differences, address grievances, and ask questions. This is the occasion to talk to the policy makers of the nursing home. My most recent experience was a sad example of family apathy, lack of family concern and lack of family participation. Two concerned people showed up for the meeting in a 200-bed facility. I was one of them.
Family breakdown has been the bane of the society for decades. It’s not something that slowly crept up on us from nowhere. It’s only now becoming a concern for those of us that have ignored or tried to justify the cause of the of the decline of the family. Family values have been replaced by the need for two incomes so we can buy the newest, the fastest, the prettiest, the biggest, and the bestest, in the ongoing, self-imposed, undeclared competition with our peers. Equality and freedom of choice in the family—without direction or leadership—is the cause of family breakdown. When each has an equal voice, each goes in their own direction aimlessly with no leadership. Fundamental principles are cast aside, and each family member goes in a different direction to satisfy their selfish desires, free of responsibility and accountability. Each is allowed and entitled to do “their own thing.”
Sadly, it is the elderly that now suffer. They suffer alone. Once again, big brother has stepped in to fill the void. Once, when families were tethered together with common goals, objectives, and family values, sons or daughters cared for their old and dying. This is no longer the case. It is now the task of the government under the guise of Medicare and Medicaid. A new industry has risen to the forefront. Now dying and death offer a profit motive to the corporate world…and it’s flourishing.
With government and private corporations cooperating, also, come the countless cottage industries of government regulators, private and public sponsored watchdogs, medical specialties, psychologist, and social workers all clamoring to get their piece of the economic pie. All are well-intentioned and overzealous at their new found treasure trough. They are preoccupied performing never-ending studies to enhance their self-interest, the results of which are ambiguous enough to affirm the need for further studies and additional funding—and stimulating their job security.
Without the breakdown of the family, they would all be out of work.
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