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The elderly want to keep their dignity and not be seen as a burden to society. That is why they want their independence for as long as they can have it. They like being able to call the shots when their minds are capable of doing it. When they are physically or intellectually unable to care for themselves, then it is understood that other arrangements need to be made. If they can stay in their own home and have professionals come in to clean house, or help them do bills or taxes, they would prefer that. Most older people feel safe where they are at. They feel familiar at home and with their own things. They feel they belong there. But if the time comes when their mind no longer recognizes others, and they no longer can control their faculties,  or go to the bathroom by themselves, it is time for a care home. If they become a danger to themselves or others, they would want to be placed where they are not a burden to their loved ones. (Being in a care home is the last thing I would want, but if I was unable to care for myself or was a danger to others, I would want that to happen.)

What amazes me is, we have not put in place a program where an amount would be taken out of each pay check to go toward nursing home care. Most of us, when we are young, believe we will never live that long and so don’t prepare for it. When you are 67, it costs too much to buy insurance for nursing homes. We’ve done this with income for retirement and with Medicare, but they will not cover the cost of Nursing Homes.

The programs we have now to help the elderly are under attack. The only other alternative is that they stay with family members or live in the streets. Medicaid helps with some of the elderly now in certain circumstances, but that is also under attack by members of Congress at the present time. Some of the elderly are fortunate to have the resources to pay for their care in a nursing home.

The elderly want to be showed affection and admiration. They want others to admire the accomplishments they’ve done, the character they have developed, and the skills they still possess. They want to hear their name spoken aloud, want others to cherish them for who they are as people. They want to have their hands held, a light touch on the shoulder, or head. Sometimes a hug would be great. Too much of the time, illness and injury keep them at home and they are soon forgotten by others. Many of the old have not been touched in years, and many have not heard others say their names for long periods of time. Churches could do much to change that if they would rise to the challenge.

Last but not least, the elderly don’t want to die alone and they want some choice about how they die. They want to say good-bye to those who matter. They want closure, and reassurance from others that they will not be forgotten. They need  feedback, a touch from others, and words from people, even when they seem unconscious. They also want to die with as little pain as possible. We need to let them have a choice in the matter.

So few needs the elderly have. The question is, what gets in the way of us being able to do it? If we look inside ourselves, we may not like the answer.

Yu/stan/kema

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