At Risk

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.

Robert Frost

My mother made it a point to visit the nursing home just a few blocks from where she lived, regularly. She would bring freshly baked cookies and cakes. Sitting at bedsides and reading aloud or listening to stories of the way things once were. It was, in my opinion, her finest hour. She was, in many cases, the only visitor these forgotten ones had. Their families lived far away or they had no family left. No one left that cared.

Listening to the news over the past weeks, I was reminded of that nursing home my mother visited and I wondered in today’s world of the coronavirus what would happen to those forgotten people. Nearly 40% of coronavirus deaths in Colorado are linked to nursing home, long-term care facilities. The coronavirus has killed more than 2,400 elderly and disabled New Yorkers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 700 residents in Ohio long term facilities have COVID-19, but the state won’t disclose the number of deaths. Throughout the United States, our elderly are dying by the thousands and nobody is really talking about it.

We, as a country, don’t seem to attach much value to our aging population. What we often hear, is what a drain they are on our government resources. Instead, we might consider the potential of our older citizens and recognize the assets they have to offer. At age 87, Pablo Picasso produced 347 engravings. Susan B. Anthony was past the age of 80 when she formed the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. Grandma Moses did not start painting until she was 76 years old. At age 95, Nola Ochs became the oldest college graduate when she received a degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. She went on to work on a Master’s degree. Possibly, we should reconsider the value of our seniors. 

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