Aging In America
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Whatever it will become, we can be assured of this: We will get past it. 80% of what we learn will be forgotten. My parents were older when I was born. Almost Senior Citizens. Having older parents offers you a different perspective on the world. You grow up differently. One impression that experience made on me was great concern for the elderly. Of the many hours of content I have produced and written, when I was asked to make to make a film about elder abuse, I struggled. It was difficult for me. I am a student of President Lyndon Johnson’s life and accomplishments. His flaws were are as distinct as his achievements. He is a man we should learn from. Johnson was more like us than different from us. Johnson said: “ One of the great tests of a civilization is the compassion and respect shown to its elders. Many of the elderly have been largely forgotten, their wisdom and experience either lost or ignored.” In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General declared ‘loneliness as an epidemic.’ A British newspaper wrote more than 1.1M UK residents self-described as being ‘lonely.' In the U.S., more than half of the population over 55 live alone. Many go for weeks having neither contact nor conversation with others. What does this mean? There is a perilous end game at work. I can’t grasp the psychological and emotional toll of going weeks without hearing the human voice of another soul. It must be worse in these scary, uncertain times. Ten years ago I produced a campaign in support of on-site health care clinics affiliated with schools districts — the strategy was to keep workers and others healthier by making it easier to get routine treatments and checks. Eventually, the clinic expanded to treat geriatric patients in the neighborhood. The director of nursing at the clinic told me a story about a
75-year-old who came in weekly for treatment and checks. She said that after three months the staff realized he wasn’t coming for health care—he was coming there because he had no place to go and the staff remained his only contact with people. And this was before Covid-19. What do those in a similar state do now…when there is no place to go. Community centers and senior citizen gathering places are closed. There’s only so many trips you can make to Kroger. So now what. Over the next several weeks we’re going to be developing a strategy and manifesto to reach out to the elderly. We should see the elderly not as a burden, but as a blessing— a repository of knowledge and strength and hope.
If you are looking for something to do. Reach out.