It is a thing of joy for all family members when a new baby arrives.Grandmas and Grandpas do dance steps that had been hidden away for a long time. As soon as news of the birth of a child reaches older parents plans are made for the grand mummy to go and help nurse mother and the newborn. Sometimes a grandma goes to the home of her son and daughter-in-law vice versa before the arrival of the baby.
The baby becomes a center of attention and shared joyful moments between daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. They forget their differences and celebrate the new member of the family for a while. But soon the different approach to raising and nursing a child begins to cause a clash. The grandma who has a generation of experience insists on throwing the baby up during bath time and the young mother screams and says, “mama that’s dangerous, please don’t throw my baby up!”😨. The grandma under her glasses😎 if she is wearing one looks at the young mother like, “hey young lady, that’s how I did it with your husband, my son and he is still alive for you to marry!”😒. Grandma also wants to give the baby some local herbs to help make him or her strong, the young mother and father go like, “mama, that can damage the intestine of our baby”! Now grandma is getting frustrated and feeling misunderstood.
The other problem between Grandmas and new mothers when babysitting their newborn is the issue of cooking. Some grandmas want breakfast as early as 7am, an in-between snack before lunch and dinner making a foursquare meal. Guess who has to prepare the meals? The new mother who is still recovering from the herculean task of delivering a 3.7kg baby and God help her if it was not a Caesarean section delivery. So the young mother spends a sleepless night breastfeeding her baby but has to also get up to prepare mama’s food and the type of meal is the one she will properly have to pound yam for mama! Don’t get me wrong, having a baby does not mean that a woman can no longer prepare meals but hey, a new mother needs all the rest she can get!! Some mums a few weeks after delivery end up breaking down and others even land in the hospital…this is not acceptable.
Grandma when you go to the home of your son or daughter to help nurse a baby be prepared to be patient, help a little extra beyond just helping to carry a well-dressed fine looking baby after his or her bath in the morning.
Apart from the stress of preparing meals and going to the market to get the ingredient house chores is another matter of concern when a grandma comes to help nurse a newborn. Now this time I am on the grandmas’ side. Some young couples think that since mama is around to help nurse her grandchild she must be ready to do more than her fair share of house chores. Some grandmas simply because they are willing and some don’t want to say no sometimes are made to do the dishes, washcloths, cook, hold the baby at night so the mother can sleep…hmmm very soon grandma will fall ill and all of you will be running in and out of the hospital. I once told one of my siblings who had just had a baby one time to get help when our mum goes to help with nursing their baby. I told her point blank, “mummy is old and cannot be the one doing all your house chores oooo”!“We cannot have her breaking down”, I added.
Our older parents are not slaves so please get an extra hand to help with your house chores when grandma comes to help nurse your baby.
Grandmas are not as agile as they once used to be, making them do all your house chores is an abuse. This not to say they cannot help around the house. They can cook and do whatever else catches their fancy but do not abuse your aged who has come to help you nurse your baby. So grandmas and new nursing mothers balance is the key here…and please be patient with each other.
She had her secondary education at Queens School Ibadan then went on to the Polytechnic Ibadan to study architecture. A native of Ekiti state in the south west , Nigeria, Tolu Roche moved to live in the United Kingdom and got to the peak of her career as an architect. Life can sometimes take a new turn either by choice or event, Tolu decided to make an impact and choose to go into social care for people with learning disability. In this field she rose to the post of senior management in social care. This inspired her into starting Lifeworth care an organization that specializes in working with families and individuals that requires care and support in their own homes.
Living away from her home country gave rise to the challenge of caring for her aged parents as she would love to. In her own words as she came visiting from time to time she noticed that some of her friends living abroad had even more serious challenge with caring for their aged parents.
Tolu Roche, though still living in the diaspora decided to take up the task of providing care for the elderly in her home country, Nigeria. Now she is investing time into training others to help provide care for the elderly.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Reach out to make a difference no matter where you find yourself
Don’t limit yourself to your first degree…so much more that you can be and do!
On a night i had wished to be home early, i had to go in the company of my husband and a few friends to intervene in a critical case of a maid whom i will call Silvia. She was incoherent in her speech and had performed an unsafe abortion. Silvia needed to get to a hospital ASAP – as soon as possible, but we had to get her boss involved. So off we went that night to meet her employer. Silvia hesitated at the door, it was obvious she was terrified and didn’t want to go in but we nudged her on. The door to the house was unlocked, and no one came to the door. She pushed the door handle, and a pitch dark room stared us in the face. We could barely see ourselves. An old shriveled voice called out Silvia’s name. It was an elderly woman whom i will call Mama. Her voice gave away her position but we still couldn’t see anything. On hearing our voices as we tried to get Silvia to put on a lamp, Mama asked who we were but soon forgot about us. Finally a lantern was lighted and we saw an old woman sited on a chair in a corner in the living room. She turned out to be Silvia’s employer. Mama was incapacitated. Her children had employed Silvia to take care of their aged mother, who throughout the time we were there did not get up from the chair . She wasn’t coherent either, neither did she challenge us as strangers who invaded her house. Our mission to tell her about Silvia’s condition was aborted. We just couldn’t tell her. Mama was in no condition to hear the news that her care giver /maid was in danger. I was almost sure that she could go into a shock or probably not even understand what we were saying. Our other option was to get in touch with one of Mama’s children and that turned out to be a herculean task. Only Silvia had access to their phone numbers and by then she was not in a good frame of mind; in fact she was mentally unstable as she kept on muttering words that didn’t make sense. We finally found a number on the contacts on her phone. It was a relief to be able to speak to one of Mama’s Sons. We tried to explain the issue at hand, his response left us in shock. He said he wouldn’t be available for another one week! My first thought was , “didn’t he know that his old mother was vulnerable and at a risk to be under the care of a maid who was also in a critical condition”. We became angry, that this man just didn’t care enough for his mother. We were in a dilemma, on one hand there was Silvia, in a confused state of mind needing urgent medical attention and on the other hand, there was no one to take care of Mama. We had to go knocking on the door of their neighbor, because by this time Silvia had fallen down suddenly unconsciously and we had to pick her up several times. She could injure herself and Mama was not safe left in her care either. Fortunately, this neighbor and his wife where concerned enough to get involved. And thankfully too they had the phone number of Mama’s son, so they put a call through to him, and explained that it was a dare situation. They added that we might be forced to report the matter to the police before taking Silvia to the hospital as nobody wanted to be held liable if anything should go wrong. It was only then that this…this..this Mama’s son took the matter seriously! I just couldn’t believe his callous attitude. Though now that i think of it, i am wondering whether i might have judged him too quickly. Finally, we were able to get Silvia to a nearby hospital without Mama even knowing what had happened to her maid. The poor old woman had to be left on her own through the night. I never did find out if she slept in that chair, because she needed someone to move her to her bed. I later learned from their neighbor that Mama uses adult diapers and probably hadn’t being cleaned for days, since Silvia was not in a good frame of mind. It was heart breaking for me, i mean no parent, woman or man should have to go through such demeaning treatment in their old age. This maid might have being abusing the poor old woman in ways no one might ever know.At what point do house maids cross the line in relation to their employers? Can Silvia be totally blamed for Mama’s condition? I am wondering also where the rights of maids begin and end when it comes to getting pregnant while gainfully employed. This i hope to look into in another post, but my concern lies with how our senior citizens are being treated by us (their children), and carers.
I mentioned earlier that i might have judged Mama’s son too quickly….yes that maybe so. I want to give he and his siblings the benefit of doubt that they might have done the best they could. At least they hired a caregiver to live in with their mother and they probably visited as often as they could in the midst of sorting out their own personal lives. But the question is was it enough? Was it the right step? Many people particularly in Africa believe that putting our aged in a home is being ungrateful to a parent. It is believed to be an act of abandoning one’s parent in their old age after all they had sacrificed and invested in our future. There are arguments for and against putting an aged parent in a home. My take on this is , if the elderly is incapacitated like Mama in my story then a live in home care/maid might not be enough. She needs a place where she can access consistent therapy and medical attention; she needs a place where she can make friends with other elderly people.
Loneliness is one big challenge amongst elderly people and often times children are too busy pursuing their own career and goals. They may not even get to see their grandchildren often. In my own little wisdom I’d suggest a few tips to overcoming loneliness in old age. Engage your aged in community activities like old people’s clubs, religious community activities, visit or call your parents as often as possible; allow their grand kids to go and spend sometime with them; move them to live with you when they can no longer move around, that is if it is a condition you all can handle; get them accommodation close to their friends if you can. There has to be a plan to make the life of an elderly person interesting and help them age gracefully. Many times it is the lack of proper information about how to achieve this that makes it difficult to provide the necessary care and support. Children or caregivers need to know the signs to watch out for in order to be able to help their aging parents when their health condition start deteriorating. The task of caring for the elderly looks cumbersome with all the complications but planning ahead might save one the hassles. Parent and children should talk in advance about the kind of care they might need as they age. Reading up about conditions that can arise as one ages. Getting an aged parent into a home care where he/she can get full support can sometimes be the difference between providing safe/adequate care and elder abuse.
I have tried to do a little research on names and addresses of homes and care services for the elderly in Nigeria. Some of them offer day care services where older persons are given therapy and engaged in various interesting activities. Below is a short list i was able to compile for people who might need information about where to get help and care for their aged. A friend who is also a social worker promised me a comprehensive list which i hope to share later as soon as possible.
Note: I am not by this post endorsing any of these elderly care service providers. Please make proper inquiry before engaging their services.
Rossetti Care,Wahabi Olayiwola Layout, Tose, Moniya, Ibadan, Nigeria.
(off the Lagos /Ilorin expressway)
Tel: +234(0) 7068 633 627