TODAY'S ARTICLE... > Don’t Forget the Elderly

28 Oct 2018

There is an 82 year old bishop and medical doctor in Georgia who simply refuses to slow down.  He tells me always not to worry about getting old.  His heavy work schedule shows his confidence at this stage of his life.  He is one of the few his age that does not depend on others for care and attention, as many of his elderly friends do.  Again, this year, I ask you not to forget the elderly.

The ACW never forgets the elderly but we watch as many of them are sidelined by family and friends, and sometimes, even the church.  We continue to see tragic scenes regarding the elderly.  They are sometimes forgotten or seen as inconvenient burdens who take far too much of our time.

The easiest thing for some people to do is to stick them in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  It does not matter that they cared for us, fed us, and educated us, giving of their time and money to make sure we had a better life than they had.

“Dr. T” in Caseyville, Illinois, was an educator all her adult life with five sons that she raised and cared for with all her love and energy.  But in her final years they stuck their proud, educated mother in a smelly nursing home.  As one of her sons told me, “Boys cannot take care of a Mama.”  But I told him, “She did not deserve such treatment from them!”

A military veteran, 93 years of age, each day sits looking through the window of his lonely nursing home room for one his eight children or 37 grandchildren to show up, but only one loyal family member ever comes to see him.  The elderly are being treated shamelessly by even some families who call themselves Christian.  Some families that do allow them to stay at home use the parent’s Social Security check to support their own lifestyles.  Then they leave their elder in a room out of sight, giving them very little personal attention.  When we think of the selfless love and care our parents gave to us, how could we ever do this to them? 

Wanda Stone (may she rest in peace) was a neighbor that I visited weekly in a nursing home.  Her husband and both of her children had preceded her in death.  When I placed her name in the church bulletin as a “sick and shut-in,” she reminded me, “Bishop, I am not sick, just shut-in!”

This writing may do nothing at all to change the plight of the elderly, but hopefully it will draw the needed attention to help stop the abuse of the elderly.  In their declining years they should be allowed to live and die with dignity.  So don’t forget your elders.  They deserve as much as they gave and remember--if life should last long for us, we too will be elderly one day.

Abp. Hartley


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