September 23, 2020

Elderly are often overlooked, mistreated

Do you want to know what the saddest thing in life is? I experienced it for the first time right before I returned to the College this year. I had to helplessly watch as nursing home attendants put a bib on my grandmother so she could eat. What must that feel like to a woman who used to have Sunday pasta dinners and a special knack for buying people exactly what they wanted at Christmas time?

It was even harder looking at all the other residents there and knowing that some of them have been forgotten by their families. They are the people who have been conveniently put in a place where they are not a burden or trouble to anyone. When looking into the eyes of some of these people, all that remains is defeat and humiliation. Not being able to control your bodily needs and needing to be cared for like a newborn is humiliating to the elders of our communities.

It’s one thing to be passed over in a nursing home, but to be passed over by community service and the government can be even worse. Last year the freshman community service projects at the College predominately dealt with children. There was only one project for taking care of senior citizens. Children are our future, but does that mean that we should pass over the people who have gone through their primes? Just because the College is known for its teaching program does not mean that most of the community service projects should deal with children.

However, this is only a minor complaint when compared to how senior citizens are treated by the government. Health care is the major problem for those who are retired. As a child of a parent who is a senior citizen, I have seen how Social Security is not enough, especially with the price of prescription drugs skyrocketing. It must be terrible for some senior citizens to have to choose between medicine and food. I saw an old man asking for donations for retired homeless veterans, and it made me ashamed that those who fought so bravely for our country are now fighting for a place to live.

At Care One in Ewing, where my grandmother lives, employees had the nerve to tell her, after everyone was served, that there was not enough soup left for her. Without my help, she wouldn’t have gotten a drink either. When I told this to a nurse, she just shrugged. This type of abuse is not uncommon, as the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 30 percent of all nursing homes in the United States engage in some type of resident abuse.

A reason for this could be that 50 percent of nursing homes are short-staffed, which leads to frustration and then abuse. Residents of nursing homes are helpless and unable to assert their basic human rights. They are put into a system that doesn’t care about them and are only there to produce a profit.

Just because some people may think there is not much value in helping senior citizens does not mean that it’s true. Just because it appears that the government and some community service programs have given up on the elderly doesn’t mean that everyone should. Yes, we should still invest in children. But shouldn’t we give back to those who already have given so much?

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