Letter: An age-old burden 'baby-boomers' should be prepared to carry

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The Independent Online
Sir: With regard to Angela Lambert's article of 8 September, loneliness is the reason for most human unhappiness, whether at 18 or 83, and that can be cured by having granny to live with you. There is so much going for it and so much help around, I'm amazed that more people don't do it.

My mother-in-law is 83, registered blind and deaf, and suffers from senile dementia. She lives with us. Like our 18- year-old daughter who lives at home and is studying for A- levels, she has her own bedroom, hates getting up in the morning, spends ages in the bathroom, gets quickly bored and loves company.

Granny has a hearing aid and can see enough to recognise faces, but her memory is so bad that she can't always put the right name to the face. She goes to bed early - about 7.30pm, as she says she needs her beauty sleep - and sleeps solidly until I wake her at 8am with a cup of tea.

From Monday to Friday she goes to the local day centre. The social services ambulance picks her up and delivers her home, and, frankly, the drive home is the only bit of the day she remembers. When we need a break from each other or want to go on holiday, she goes to the local short-stay respite home.

Perhaps I'm biased. When I was a teenager, both my grandmothers came to live with us after my grandfathers' deaths. I shall always remember how they listened to problems, were always sympathetic, never judgemental, and loved a good joke or a bit of a gossip. My mother-in-law is part of the family, and feels part of the family. We love her, she loves us. There's no guilt about not having visited or trying to pursuade the children to visit.

Oh, and lastly, everyone thinks I'm marvellous]

Yours faithfully,

CLARE SMITH

Twickenham, Middlesex

8 September

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