Home » Humanity: The Need to Feel Important, or Just Necessary: Why America Fails Its Elderly

Humanity: The Need to Feel Important, or Just Necessary: Why America Fails Its Elderly

Don
Elderly
Courtesy of Steve Baker (Flickr CC0)

Government Ignores our Elderly

Seldom mentioned in discussions on talk shows and “entertainment television,” what was once known as “television news,” is depression among the elderly. I’ve read many reported symptoms and factors, but eliminated in most of these observations is a basic human need: to feel important, or at the very least necessary.

A Decline in Physical Health is Depressing

We, and I mean we, feel loss with age, frequently to extreme levels. Physical abilities are greatly reduced. Regardless of the degree of activity, losing the ability to perform basic necessities will undoubtedly lead to some level of depression. Afflicted with severe physical impairment can result in simply giving up on life.

Back pain, different levels of immobility, balance, vision impairment, hearing loss, digestive problems and more may seem somewhat trivial to younger men and women, but to those in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s, they result in memories of when we were “whole.” When the inability to perform tasks easily accomplished previously are now tiring, painful, or nearly impossible, the feeling of loss becomes stronger. It may seem silly to apply the five stages of grief to these situations, but they fit perfectly. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance will likely come into play.

Several Mental Conditions Result in Feelings of Worthlessness

For some of us, the greatest problem is our mental capacity. Failing memory, forgetting such simple things as names or how to perform a task completed thousands of times previously, or the inability to put thoughts together into coherent sentences are major sources of depression. Like physical infirmities, mental problems make us feel less important and we consider ourselves a burden to others. No longer feeling that we are contributing to the lives of others, and replacing that need with dependence upon others is demeaning, if not simply frustrating.

Being Alone or Just Feeling Alone

Loneliness is all too common. No longer do families grow up and remain close to other relatives. What’s left of my family lives in Idaho, Colorado, and my daughter in Florida. Most of my wife’s family lives in Florida, and we live in Northern Nevada. I can no longer fly for various reasons. Long car trips are unthinkable. The train takes one to four days to travel to any of those locations. Besides, we do not have sufficient money to afford long trips. The cost of everything from gas to lodgings are out of our reach.

Most Older Americans Overcome Self-Pity

The amazing fact is that for many of us simply being aware of these issues results in a determination to overcome all that we can on our own. Although it is necessary, accepting assistance is not easy. Independence for most of us is key to caring about living. The human spirit is undefeatable if we choose it to be so.

The two issues which are irreparable are closely linked: nothing to look forward to, and money.

Our Future is Related to Money

When we’re young, we are excited about what lies in front of us. New possessions, a new love, an exciting excursion, the birth of a child, or any other event when brings us joy is the reason we wake up every morning.

Many of we older Americans have a routine, and that’s about it. Few retired Americans have enough money to do the things they dreamt about in their past. Healthcare, the unrealistic cost of prescription medications etc., prevent our dreams from becoming reality. America’s cost and quality of health care for the majority makes us the most uncaring nation in the world.

Americans Work Longer Because We Cannot Afford to Retire

The estimate is that only 22 percent of all Americans will be secure at retirement age. Without Social Security, tens-of-thousands of older Americans would be homeless. Even with the large increase in monthly payments in 2023, all older Americans who rely on Social Security for most or all of their retirement will remain behind. I estimate that the current “Greedflation” has increased our monthly payments by 12 percent, and our increase is only 8.7 percent.

America Leads the World in Failing to Care for Its Elderly

Finally, in the world of developed nations, America is far behind all others when discussing senior care. We should not be required to contribute to Medicare. We have paid for it many times over in our lives. There should be federally funded and supervised nursing care homes for all seniors who need them at no cost. Our funerals should be paid for by our government. The cost has become prohibitive for the families of most of our elderly.

Most of us cannot afford life insurance, and the average cost for a funeral in the United States is about $8,000. No one I know can afford that expense.

No One Can Honestly Claim That “America is the Greatest Country in the World”

I have a serious gag reflex every time I hear a greedy and self-serving professional politicians claim that “America is the greatest country in the world,” or “the richest nation in the world.”

How our government fails to care for its people and the fact that less than 10 percent of all Americans can afford the “American lifestyle” in the 21st century is proof that we are one of the worst nations in the free world.

All of this is based on facts. Our government is the least competent and most corrupt in all of the world. Unfortunately, I don’t see a “fix” for this problem. We may be forced to “start over.”

By James Turnage, Author of “DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR GOD AND COUNTRY”

Sources:

National Institute on Aging: Depression and Older Adults

WebMD: Depression in Older People

Top and featured image courtesy of Steve Baker‘s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

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