Old Age and Being a Burden – January 1925

Of late I have been pondering much on the word “home” and what it stands for in our thoughts and language. We have the Nursing Home, Home for Cripples, Home for the Incurable, Maternity Home, Home for the Blind, Home for Destitute Children, and so on. I think the term used as in the foregoing is more descriptive of its real significance than the home we think of as the family unit.

For, if we search to the root of the idea, we shall find that a home is a set of conditions specially created for the protection and preservation and continuation of life, and as necessary for all living things as for the human being.

We are familiar with that instinct among domesticated animals. The drooping fowl is pecked by her fellows, and wanders apart. The cow or horse which is sick shuns the companionship of the herd, knowing that, instead of sympathy and help, it will be attacked and driven away. .

Old people are often trying. Often because they will not or cannot suppress their individuality. They want their own way — as we all do —- when they are no longer able to take the responsibility of themselves or of their lives. One often has occasion to observe an imperious irritability of manner in an aged parent towards the daughter who is doing her best to please; the elder resenting the reversing of roles.

She or he who for almost a lifetime has held the position of authority and control of a household or a family does not resign it easily into the hands of the younger generation.

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