April 21, 2009

Another Strayer University Essay....

Student 2, from Strayer University's Intro to Sociology class, questions Julie and Ed's decision to take care of Herbie at home. Student 2 writes, "Does she feel that way because her Father is surrounded by people who love him? Perhaps she feels that love is one of the better medicines out there, and that with Herbie being around people who love him will help him stay alive longer."

Student 2:

Losing Herbie is a short film that illustrates the joys and struggles of a family taking care of their elders when their elders can’t take care of themselves. Herbie, an eighty four year old man, is suffering from dementia, and his family has taken him in to their home to see that he is taken care of. His family consists of his daughter, son in law, and two grandchildren, all with their own part in helping Herbie throughout the day. While watching this story, a few things jump out at me that I find interesting.

The first thing that strikes me when I watch the film is when the daughter of Herbie says, “I have no questions whatsoever, that having Herbie live here means he’s getting the best care he can possibly have”. This quote strikes me because there are possibly other places that Herbie could live that he would get better attention and care, one being a nursing home. The assurance in her voice, though, proves to me that she believes what she is saying whole heartedly. Does she feel that way because her Father is surrounded by people who love him? Perhaps she feels that love is one of the better medicines out there, and that with Herbie being around people who love him will help him stay alive longer. Another theory of mine is that Herbie’s Daughter is afraid to lose him, so she wants to keep him around her as much as possible before he passes.

Another thing that pops out at me while watching this film are the children and the environment they have to live in. The two grandchildren of Herbie, one grandson and one granddaughter, are now living with an extra body that has to be taken care of by their parents. Herbie probably requires more attention, seeing as he can do fewer things for himself than the children. This means that the kids are getting less attention by their parents than they probably should. The son and daughter, even though they seem to notice the lack of attention, take it very well. They help out around the house, and seem to be very good to their Grandfather. These kids are being forced, in a sense, to act much older than they really are, and have to put the being kid stuff on hold to help take care of their Granddad and help out around the house. The question can be raised, what effects, long term and short term, will this have on the children? Will this help them become stronger people or will this situation cause them to have issues such as abandonment, trust, or self respect. Being in a home where the parents have to take care of someone else over their children has to be rough on the kids, and even though they show no signs of any problems now, one has to think about if this is actually helping or hurting these children.

The last thing that grabs my attention while watching Losing Herbie is the stress level that everyone seems to be under. The Daughter of Herbie said herself, “If I gave up my work to make all of our lives calmer, I would be suicidal.” This stress level in the house has me asking the question, what effects will this high tension have on the entire family? How will this affect the marriage Herbie’s daughter and son and how will it affect the children. With stress levels so high, and everyone running around trying to do their part, this family has to be worn out, not only physically, but emotionally. Taking care of the elderly is no small task, and this family didn’t realize what they were in for. We really don’t get to see an ugly side, where the family is fighting or arguing, all that much. Maybe there is no ugly side just yet, but this family is so on edge, that there are bound to be problems ahead for the marriage and the relationship with their children.

Losing Herbie is a classic tale of any average family trying to balance life. When something so big as taking care of an older relative comes into the mix, that balance becomes much harder. This film shows the stresses and the joys of any family in this situation struggling to keep the balance in their lives without going insane. This family may look like they are keeping a good balance, but questions can still arise about the long term effects of what it is like to be Losing Herbie.