China’s one-child policy is beginning to play out with devastating effects. When I arrived at Sun Xiuyu’s home in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, I smelled the stench before I even arrived at the door. Conditions inside the house were horrific as her two in-laws and grandmother lay helpless in their beds.
Sun cried as she explained the situation. Sun was the only person who could care for them and the stress on her was tremendous. Both of Sun’s in-laws were paralyzed and their clothes and bedding required changing every day.
After she and her husband finished with their daily farm work, they had to care for them. By the end of the day, they were both physically and mentally exhausted. On top of that, her husband’s 93-year-old grandmother was also physically deteriorating.
Her husband’s father and his father’s four younger brothers each had to care for their sickly mother six days out of the month. Naturally, the job fell on Sun when it was her father-in-law’s turn, since he was paralyzed in bed at her home.
Six days a month was not too much of a burden for Sun, that is, until harvest time. Sun really did not have time to care for the poor women and asked her in-law’s uncles to help her out for a few days until she finished with the farm work.
It was during that time a neighbor informed Sun that her grandmother was naked out on the street. “When I came back and saw her, I cried,” recalled Sun. Sun couldn’t believe her eyes; the grandmother was dropped off at her home naked. Sun felt terrible and wronged.
She did everything she could to care for her even though it was not her responsibility. Sun was to care for her that day, but no one was home to receive the elderly women, so the fourth son simply left his mother on the street.
The fourth son admitted that it was a financial burden to care for his mother and that he could not help Sun. Sun went to the mother’s fifth son for help, but the answer was just as disappointing.
When the third son died, the burden of caring for her now fell on the four remaining sons. The four families all had their difficulties when it came to caring for the 93-year-old women. They were all farmers and couldn’t afford to spare the extra time.
Luckily, their mother wasn’t aware of what was going on around her, so she was not hurt by her children’s dispute. This heartbreaking story reveals the dilemma that an only child faces in China as their parents age. Just two people, a husband and wife, must eventually care for four elderly parents.
This is especially hard for families in the suburbs as they usually have insufficient financial resources to provide for care outside the home. Any complicated health problems only add to the children’s burden and the parents suffering.
Source: Secret China
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