The Forgotten Elderly

The morals of a society can be best qualified by the treatment of its weakest members. Who are the weakest members of a society? The disabled? The minorities? The poor? The elderly? My grandmother just turned 92 today and is currently residing in an assisted-living home. She has seen so much in the last 9 decades and has lived a very full life: scraping during the Great Depression, reading newspapers of Hitler’s blitzkrieg,  hearing reports of JFK being assassinated, birthing 4 children, and so much in between. Unfortunately, her health is quite precarious and she needs 24 hour care. Thankfully, she has a great family that visits her regularly and brings her copious amounts of tasty treats. The sad reality is that my Grandma is the exception rather then the rule when it comes to visitations. Most of the residents sit in their chairs all day with no visitors week in and week out. They have no advocates. They have limited conversations. They have no hope. They have almost nothing left. Contrast this with the youthful vigor (relatively speaking) making up the rest of the population. Most people are spending time at work, socializing, doing recreation, and wasting time sitting on their butt. Most people have the priorities of pleasure and getting more money to maintain pleasures. I am one of these people and I want to change this about myself.

I want to spend more time with the elderly. I believe that we all have a duty to share our time with those who are most vulnerable. I feel strongly about this because I never want to be a lonely old man waiting to die in a nursing home. Loneliness to that degree is one of the scariest things to think about because I have to share thoughts, laughs, and emotions with people on a daily basis. A paradox exists today; we are more social and connected then ever but more isolated then ever. Kids grow up using social media and it is not uncommon to see whole families at dinner glued to their respective phones. This isolation extends to the elderly and I think we need to look hard at how we prioritize our time. Could we replace one hour of time spent on the internet with spending time with an elderly individual? Could we take our kid to a nursing home for 1 hour instead of the umpteenth soccer practice? Could we watch one less rerun of Friends and go talk with a lonely person? I think we all can and should. America was built by these elderly individuals and they deserve the respect of our time and love. I personally want to play my guitar for the nursing home residents and talk to them about their personal histories. Let’s better our society by bettering those most vulnerable. Taking care of the elderly will send positive ripple effects throughout all generations-increasing our understanding of love, respect, and life’s blessings.

 

7 thoughts on “The Forgotten Elderly

  1. GREAT ARTICLE! Before all this happened with Grandma, I drove past without a thought of the souls who were inside any assisted living home – but my views have changed. I too hope and pray that when or if my day comes others would take time to care and be my advocate. I guess that is why I try my best to spend quality time with Grandma and little by little I am finding myself becoming close to some of the other residents. The way God works: we think we are going to bless others, but we in turn are the blessed ones.

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  2. Very nice post! It IS a pity. But, in fact, I think of the generation before me, as being the “lost” generation. They have no computer skills, they cannot “keep in touch” and so, the NEXT generations, who are computer literate, might have a less lonely time, don’t you think?

    I taught computers to “old” people (like me) for some years. Many of them said “I HATE computers. I’m only here at these lessons because my kids bought me a laptop/tablet and say I should learn to use it” and other such stuff. There were several who developed the light of obsession/passion in their eyes. I knew they were the ones who’d be fine. Computers can make an old person’s world VAST!

    My oldest student was 92 when she started lessons. She just died last year at 96. I miss all her funny e-mails and pictures and the latest results from her Bridge Club.

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    • You know, I had not thought about technology use among the elderly. You are completely right that the elderly today are the lost generation in respects to using technology. I do think that future generations will be less lonely as they get older because of social media/the internet. I just wonder whether it will prevent family from actually visiting because they can just write on Grandma’s Facebook page. Really, that is a problem for all age groups and we need to balance all forms of interaction. I really appreciate you broadening my perspective and I hope to still be blogging when I am a old man. Thanks for the comment :).

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  3. Enjoyed your blog today. Very difficult to see all of these lonely souls with no one to visit them. The week of thanksgiving and Christmas Was the only time I saw any visitors come to see anyone . Unfortunately so many patients in the building that your grandma is in, doesn’t have a clue where they are. Dementia robs the elderly of all their memories and reduces them down to a mental age of four and five years olds. Some of the actions that I have witnessed has made me smile….. Pauline sits near the exit door with her walker piled high with personal items. Hoping and praying someone will let her go thru the magic door to freedom. Another asks to use the phone to call her parents so they can come and get her, she herself is in her 80’s. Odell wanders from hallway to hallway , then wanders around the dining room tables taking the water glasses on each table and putting them in a circle or a line. Meanwhile never looking anyone in the eye or speaking to them either. Every day like little lost lambs and yet there is a sweetness about each one. So child like in a tired old body. I ask God ….what is their purpose in life now? They can’t function like normal people and yet there they are, still living a strange life in their own little world.

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    • Thanks for commenting Aunt Linda 🙂 It seems like you are really getting to know the residents there. They are like children in ways and maybe that is a good thing. Being child like is something adults strive for and can never achieve because of stress/worry/responsibilities. Interesting to think about and think about their perspectives. Thankfully you are there to advocate for Grandma.

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      • Thanks Jon , being an advocate for her can be tiring and stressful. On a daily basis you are watching what they are suppose to be doing to make her comfortable and that she is safe and sound. A lot of the caregivers over there are just putting in their time and nothing more, so I have to be right on top of them. So many of the patients have no one watching over them, so I believe the staff is not used to being questioned or called on the carpet when I see something wrong. So…..your mom and I are there on a daily basis to keep things running smooth. My new job since I retired. 😜

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