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2011年2月14日 (月)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: To those worried about their elderly parents living far away
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:遠距離介護に悩む人へ /東京

I am occasionally interviewed about "long-distance care," perhaps because my parents live in Hokkaido while I work and live in far off Tokyo.

One thing I can say about my own experiences is that, as my parents have entered old age, all kinds of problems I couldn't have even imagined when I was young have popped up, from how to go about treating illnesses to how to deal with daily events like shopping and cleaning.

If I lived nearby, I could stop by my parents' house on my way back from work. However, since I don't live nearby, I can't very well hop on an airplane and fly across the country every time a light bulb needs changing.

I admit, while saying to my parents, "I'm sorry I can't do anything to help," part of me is secretly relieved that I can get out of the situation without having to do anything. I take advantage of my physical distance as a means to avoid caring for or helping out my parents.

However, patients who come to see me at my office are more dutiful. Some even complain of mental and physical stress caused by worrying about their parents. "If my mother calls me and says she's not feeling so well, my heart starts to race," they may tell me. Some of these people fall more and more into negative thinking, and even come out with things like, "I knew it was a mistake to come to Tokyo for work. I should have stayed in my hometown."

Although I admire these patients' kindness and love for their parents, I don't think it is right for them to blame themselves.

I say to these patients, "Maybe your parents act needier now, but in the past, didn't they say how happy they were that you had made your own way in Tokyo?"

When I tell them this, even patients who initially respond, "No, all my parents ever say is that they had wanted me to live nearby," start to gradually remember. "Now that you mention it, I seem to recall my mother bragging to the neighbors about how hard I was working in Tokyo. I made her stop it because I was embarrassed."

For any parent, the goal of raising a child is not to bring up someone who will take care of them in their old age, rather it is to bring up someone who will stand on their own two feet in the world. People living far from their hometowns have fulfilled their parents' dreams by making their own, independent lives. Those parents surely feel proud of their far-away children and feel satisfied for having raised them in that manner.

Those people caring for parents from afar, don't attack yourself or feel ashamed. Do not feel you have failed as a child. Have confidence. It's sufficient to do what you realistically can to help your parents. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2011年2月8日 地方版


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