by Cindy Hasz
American Reporter Correspondent
San Diego, Calif.
March 3, 2003
PLIGHT OF THE ELDERLY IN A THROW AWAY WORLD
SAN DIEGO -- I just sat through several hours of committee meetings where I was presenting our new model of community elder care to the county planning group for funding. There were proposals for skate parks and for trees and for new alleys. There were checks handed out: tens of thousands of dollars for basketball courts, new roads, and libraries and more.
Then I presented the need for county funding to help our elders. they didn't seem to understand the need.
What is it about taking care of our elders that is so incomprehensible? Why is it that we can spend millions of dollars on new stadiums yet cannot come up with simple transportation to get our elderly to their doctors or develop community based programs that help them age in place, at home where they have all their memories and connections to the lives they've lived?
I sat there amazed at the thousands of taxpayer dollars that are blown around at every pet project in town, but the simple need for nurses to be funded so they can help the most vulnerable population in the community, the frail elderly, is not seen as practical?
Elders need help connecting with resources. They are hard of hearing, hard of seeing and increasingly isolated, as the world becomes darker and more silent. They need help with medical issues they cannot resolve.
They are often in pain which is misunderstood or dismissed.
They are depressed and stressed by the overwhelming challenges of aging alone.
They need help talking to their doctors. They need help with their insurance plans.
They need help with family problems. They need help bathing and cooking and taking care of themselves. They need to find ways to pay for their medicine.
They need help finding trustworthy people to come into their homes.
They need defense from the predators in every community who live to invade their lives and bank accounts.
Insurances don't take care of these things and public funding is shrinking by the minute. Families are often gone or so far removed they cannot help. Who is going to take care of the "greatest generation" when they need us the most? Who will take care of us when we are in their position? For many of us it won't be that long.
This town is not different from anytown U.S.A. We love our pigskin and golf clubs, our fast cars, our social clubs, our fine dinning and entertainment, our plethora of leisure activities. We love our strength and freedom and independence. And all that is fine as long as we take care of first things first.
But when elders in our hometowns are eating dog food, as one county worker told me this week, because they cannot both pay for medicine and eat well, too, there is something very wrong.
What will happen to us when we are no longer strong and independent? Will we not reap what we have sown in this hedonistic, throwaway society? Can we expect different of our children when it is time for them to care for us if we teach them by our example to ignore our elders today?