Accidentally, my YouTube-feed showed me a commercial for a “Granny-Pod”. It’s a small house where one can keep ones elderly mother in the backyard, when she’s arrived at that stage in life where she needs attention, care or help (and maybe surveillance). Perhaps this will be an option now that senior care seems to be deteriorating on all levels and everywhere. The generation in need of this kind of care is growing exponentially while the generation that is to provide this care are getting fewer. A strange equation. I’m beginning to think that when that time has come for all of us born in the 50, 60 and 70’ies, the ancient custom of throwing the old and useless off a precipice will be reintroduced. Or maybe there will be robots that dish out medication and food and have the ability to shower and dress the elderly patient. Because there isn’t going to be anyone else around that is willing to take on that job.
Will there even be families willing to have a demanding senior in their back yard? It might not be as charming as the above commercial indicates. Perhaps this little old lady isn’t willing to be cute and helpful, and make strawberry jam, fold laundry or peel potatoes. And the grandchildren she could read fairytales to are already over 22 and don’t have the patience to listen to grandma tell the same story for the umpteenth time of what life was life back in the day.
No, instead this elderly woman would be sitting by herself all day, feeling lonely and abandoned while the family in the house are off for work all day. And she might be demented to the point where she won’t even recognise her caregivers anymore. Resulting in her being uncooperative, refusing to take her medication and definitely won’t allow these ‘strangers’ to help out with her personal hygiene. But times are changing. So maybe it’s time to start thinking about how the future for my generation will look like?
There are seniors who like to watch ‘The Price is Right’ or ‘Wheel of Fortune”, play solitaire, crochet little pot holders or toilet roll covers, listen to Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby while reading Ladies Home Journal. Next generation will probably be very different. Newspapers? Could only be used in the bottom of the bird cage. There will be an iPad (or the future equivalent) that provides both information, news and entertainment. Plus video-calls to children and grandchildren, which in turn saves them the trip to Golden Acres Retirement Home every Sunday.
No, in the future there will be little old men playing World of Warcraft online, and ladies that crank up the volume to their old Metallica CDs to unbearable levels. Someone might break a hip while attempting some of their breakdance moves or while playing around with and old skateboard in the corridor. Wheelchair races? Possibly. There will be old people that want to sit around with their mates until the wee hours of the morning, sharing too much red wine or smoking weed while someone entertains the others with their best selection of four-chord songs on the guitar.
There will be no more flower-print dresses with cork slippers and dark, thick nylons that curl around the ankles. No, the future caregivers will have to struggle to get that incontinence diaper to fit down old missus’ skinny jeans. There will be no one wearing a beige trench coat or knitted cardigan while boarding the bus for the weekly trip out. And these recurring field trips will less likely go to the local history museum, more likely to a rock concert. No more Bingo on Friday nights. Instead Karaoke with Springsteen-songs…
No more re-heated soggy potatoes with gravy, baked beans and dried out burgers when all these seniors all call out for Thai-food, pizza and tacos. The ladies want a cocktail before dinner. No tea and sherry for Sunday afternoon but rather at least one Mimosa for brunch. They also want a proper Latte. Possibly decaf.
I’ve already made my own plans (at least until that day when I get pushed off the cliff) to get a walker designed by DKNY with handles in faux leopard, ashtray, wine bottle holder, built in stereo and chocolate compartment. My orthopaedic shoes will have glittery details and my neck brace will have bling. Tassels on my denim jacket. And there will be no one around that will have the guts to ask me “Are you really going out like that?”.
I probably won’t watch my language, keep the volume down or go to bed at 8 pm either.
Now, after I’ve made this declaration I realise that none of my children will ever consider having me in a ‘Granny-Pod’ in the back yard. Imagine all the creative lies my poor grandchildren would have to come up with in order to explain to their friends who this eccentric old person is. Maybe there will be a new and different meaning of the word “Hippie”? In the future… well, if they just send me a winogram every now and then, the merciful oblivion will make me lose count of both days, missed visits and number of family members.