When worlds seem to collide and life as you know it changes in a nano second, it is devastating, confusing and knocks the balance off what once made sense. Stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and death, and as we tend to live longer, fuller lives, the sudden plunge into reality is even harder to bear. Is this the price we pay for longevity? When it happens to a family member almost always there are hidden costs and you find you are not insured for this/that, and the cash flow begins to dry up. You didn’t think of everything after all.
At first it seems the whole world is there as a support system, and gradually they settle back into their world because there is little they can do but listen. Depression, isolation, and that dreadful sense of being totally alone, which you are. People cannot share this with you. You can be surrounded by people but ultimately you are alone. As with all trauma. Unless you have an abundance of family members within reach, even your dearest friends are limited as to where they can help you. As endless as this pain seems, it does settle into an easier place, and the resilience we all have comes through. New routines, everything really the same just a little misplaced, and before you quite realize it you are coping and the pain is put in a place reserved for those private moments when thinking about it doesn’t hurt quite so much.
Assisted living here in Mexico is still in its infancy, and most of the residences are in expat communities around Mexico. Here at Lakeside we have quite a large choice as it is a retirement area for expats from all over North America and Europe. For the Mexican nationals of the area, outside care is still nascent and nonexistent in the villages like Tepehua, and not because of a money issue, but a moral one, due to a culture where generations live together and they take care of their own elderly and babies and each other. It is a culture of respect for the family based in a country where resources for the masses are limited and it is a case of having to take care of all family members regardless of limited space and pesos. It is the natural thing to do here.
Cultures in the North handle family matters in a different way and usually the family groups are splintered in the first place as they migrate and take parts of their culture with them, as in the case of having professional help for their family member rather than keep them home. It may seem like a “throw away” culture but it isn’t, it’s caring in a different way. Plus a different lifestyle where every member is usually working and keeping up the frenetic work ethics and cost of living. Or the existing partner is too frail to cope.
Expats have to face the fact that aging can be a lonely place when you have no family tree around you with the protection that brings. A price for paradise. One of the benefits in our paradise is that there is plenty of help around, especially home help, and it is caring and professional. There are many professional nurses and therapists moonlighting in home care in an economy that is gradually getting stronger and where money from the top is gradually trickling down to benefit the poor, not an even playing field by any means, which is an impossible goal for any society anywhere in the world, but needs can be met.
If you are in that dark place, reach out to the many avenues Lakeside offers. You will be glad you did, because we are all in this together.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com