Saturday, 21 July 2012

Terry and June

Earlier today, as I often do of a Saturday lunchtime, I took my children out to the nearby supermarket for a bite to eat.

As we sat waiting for our meal an elderly couple who likewise visit most weeks came in for their regular weekend treat.

For the purposes of this entry I shall call them Terry and June although obviously that isn't their real names.

I have known them since I was a child and now both well into their eighties Terry is still deeply in love with June and I am sure vice versa.

But unfortunately June is suffering from severe dementia. She no longer speaks and only ever shows fleeting glances of even recognising her own husband.

Terry has dedicated his life to looking after June since her illness began and he does so with a tenderness that has to be seen to be believed but the simple fact is he is finding it increasingly difficult to cope.
He still looks on his beloved wife with the same eyes as when he first saw her at a dance a lifetime ago.

His love now, as then, is unconditional.

As Terry's own health falters understandably he is becoming increasingly concerned about what will become of June.

The last thing that Terry wants is for June to go into a home - it would break his heart.
We are living in a society with an increasingly aging population. A society where Terry and June's story is becoming increasingly common.

Even if you don't know one now I am certain over the next few years you will encounter a Terry and June.

Over the next few years care for the elderly is going to be one of the biggest challenges facing our society.

How are we going to support the millions of people that will be in similar positions to Terry or June?

How do we let them live their lives together in dignity when frankly they can't afford the support necessary to provide for themselves?

There are no easy (or cheap) answers.

We must be radical in ackowledging and addressing this massive problem.

But face this problem we must, right now and with an urgency that suitably honours those mothers, fathers and grandparents to who we owe so much.

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