Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Abuse of Seniors

A few years back I was hospitalized for a surgical procedure. My roommate was an 84-year-old woman who was always cheery and did not appear sick. During my recuperation, she would get my tray from the food cart when it arrived on the ward, and in the afternoon she would bring me a cup of tea. After meals, she helped the nurses by picking up the trays from nearby rooms. Everyone, patients and staff, liked her.

When I inquired about her health she would only say she was under observation, so I asked one of the nurses. I was told that the lady had come into the hospital months earlier for a gynecological problem which was dealt with. Why was she still in hospital?

The nurse explained that before the woman was admitted, her only son had obtained a power of attorney “in case”. Then, while his mother was undergoing treatment, he absconded with her money without leaving a forwarding address. Hospital officials had put the woman on a waiting list for a senior residence she could afford on her pension, and in the meantime she remained in hospital. For the nurse who recounted the story, this was a disturbing trend.

The nurse also told me that on Mother’s Day the woman had asked if any mail had come for her. All she wanted was a word from her son, to know that he was all right. When I returned to the hospital a few weeks after my discharge, I learned that the lady had died. My nurse was convinced that she had willed her own death.

Many boomers face the reality of caring for aging parents and would never consider abandoning or otherwise mistreat them, but the statistics are there and are food for thought. If only one person in our society is being abused physically, financially, psychologically, I believe it’s everyone’s problem.

Senior abuse is happening today in the best of families. We cannot close our eyes to this ignominy. We must speak out, report it and make it an important issue for everyone living in our town, in our neighborhood. If we fail to do so, we become the silent conspirators of those who prey on the vulnerable.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Looking around at today’s grandmothers, one can’t help but see how the passage of years has altered things. I mean, they don’t make grandmas like they used to. In my days, grandmas stayed at home and seemed to cook all day. By comparison, today’s grandma is out there in the world doing her own thing. Yesterday’s grandma seemed to be forever wearing the “house dress” while today’s grandma blends in with the rest of the crowd whether in a silk suit or a jogging outfit. Yesterday’s grandma wore glasses. Chances are that today’s grandma wears contact lenses while her children are getting used to reading glasses.

At one point my granddaughter wanted to know why only grandfathers have grey hair, and not grandmas. Yesterday’s grandma had white hair while today’s grandma runs to her colorist as soon as grey roots begin to show.  And that’s not the only time she runs. Keeping in shape by walking, jogging, cycling or swimming is a must for most of today’s grandmas while yesterday’s grandmas were too busy keeping in shape doing housework to ever consider the idea of a gym.

Things have changed for older women. While in the past they had few options outside the home, today the sky’s the limit. I know a delightful 83-year-old great-grandmother who creates wonderful paintings. She says it keeps her young at heart, which it surely does. The amazing thing is that she started to take art lessons at the age of 77.

And you thought you were too old to learn something new!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scary Future

The latest report from the United Nations on climate change is pretty scary. Now that we are seeing tons of “wild, stormy and dangerous” weather all over the place resulting in misery for so many people and in lives lost, the report foretells even more and more weather disasters all over the world. Droughts, storms, heat waves and forest fires will become more common place, while downpours and floods increase and sea levels continue to rise.

These occurrences are costly for everyone and are affecting our food supply as farmers face weather disasters. If climate change continues on its current path, food and water shortages will be the norm, the report says. It also warns of increasing health costs.

I have been seeing the effects of climate change over the years while taking my daily walks along the lake where I live. We know water levels are increasing, and in my world the erosion of the shore is clear. Many of the ancient trees that used to line the lake a few years ago now stand a yard or so from the shoreline, their gnarled roots visible in the water. Bushes that used to sway in the wind on the shore are now rooted in water away from the shore. How far will this erosion continue?

And things are not about to improve unless the world takes action to reverse the damage of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases. The cost of cutting emissions is modest compared the cost of the continued weather assaults on our world. We should all join forces to make certain our governments are pro-active in cleaning up our air. After all, together our voices are loud.

If we don’t, our children and especially our grandchildren will face a changing future where basic living will be profoundly changed. How will they fare? A better question is: Why should they have to? It’s up to all of us to make sure they don’t.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Badge of Honor

Listening to the news on the radio the other day, I was flabbergasted to hear the newscaster saying that a 64-year-old elderly woman had been the target of an attack. Elderly at 64?? My first thought was what should a 90-year-old person be called? Too old to live??

            My complaint to the radio station was one of many as it turns out, and the station felt obligated to apologize. Too little too late in my view. Why should people be labeled as they age? Why should the age of the woman who was attacked need to be qualified in the first place? If a 30-year-old man had been attacked there would not have been any other adjective attached to the story even if he was, let’s say, overweight or had a scar on his face. Let’s treat everyone on the same scale.

It seems to me that “young” people, those under 40, don’t see themselves as aging. They somehow feel they’ll never get as old as 60, or God forbid, 70. Yet I suppose baby boomers felt the same way at some point in their younger days. I know I did, yet there is no way of avoiding aging is there? However, what society should avoid is denigrating age when in fact it should be seen as a badge of honor. After all, every year of life brings new wisdom which is the reason older people are overall so interesting. They have lived, have cried, have fought, and have survived to love another day. Why should they be seen as less than they are?

The 64-year-old woman who was the subject of the newscast fought her assailant with all her strength which resulted in his arrest. Courageous should have been the adjective used to describe her. Let’s spread the word.