Friday, June 15, 2012

Elderly & Homeless

By Felicity Blaze Noodleman

This is not an easy article to write.  There’s nothing exciting or new and there is no good outcome.  The story can’t be told with a “they all lived happily ever after”.  They all live with us in a galaxy near - near by.  They are our grandparents, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles. The generations who have gone before us.  Of all the charities I have ever encountered, it seems to me this cause for the elderly is the most noble and yet these Sr.’s seem to get the least attention of all.  They have earned our consideration and care!  This article is dedicated to exploring their dilemma and seeks to be an advocate for their cause.

As we age all kinds of infirmities begin to make their appearance.  Our bodies begin to deteriorate.  A whole field of medicine is devoted to the treatment of old age, “Geriatrics”.  The bones become more pores and brittle.  Arthritis begins setting in.  The mind becomes susceptible to Alzheimer’s.  In the latter stages a human being fully grown becomes like a helpless child who is now unable to even control their bodily functions.  A slow and sliding prelude to death. The hips and legs go. They lose their sense of balance needing canes, crutches, walkers and wheelchairs.

We’ve all seen the elderly all our lives.  It’s hard to imagine them as anything other than what they are – but once they were younger like us.  Vibrant, young and full of dreams but now they are on the road nearing the end of their lives.  You may meet them on the street and have many questions.  What happened to them?  Are they bums because of drink or drugs?  Have they no place to go or call their own?  The answers might surprise you.

Every generation since the beginning of time has had its elderly.  In every city of the world the picture can be the same.  The “golden years”; someone once termed that time of life when you are no longer expected or able to work and live out your days in peace and serenity.  For many reasons this state of life can change forcing it’s victims to be truly cast off and left to subsist any way they can.

Expensive medical care involved with the elderly.

I have some true and very personal stories to share with you on the subject.  I’ll keep them short but they have  unfolded over a number of years.  They are stories full of personal pain and disappointment.  As always;  the names and other information have been changed to protect the true identies and privacy of those persons. 

First is case of Benny.  He was once a millionaire many times over and was living in his dream home running a small business for the fun in it when he was stricken with cancer.  He had insurance along with his savings to battle the disease.  When I met Benny he had used every benefit his insurance health plan could afford him, sold his house and business spending almost his entire savings fighting the cancer.  A life time of saving and planning were now gone.  Benny was now seeking shelter at one of the charitable homeless shelters where he had once been a donor.  Benny had spent 11 years on chemotherapy, surgeries and hospital stays and was no longer able to afford a place to live.

Next is the story of Dorothy.  She too was very well off financially.  She contracted a debilitating spinal column disease and needed extensive medical care to save her life.  She felt her situation would be sufficient and a cure would restore her to the kind of life she was accustomed to living.  When she could no longer afford the radical treatment for this very complicated illness she was placed in a taxi and sent to an emergency shelter for the homeless and left to fend for herself.  She was just dumped by our prestigious medical system and told “thank you very much for spending your fortune with one of the best hospitals in California, but you just can’t stay here no more lady.”

There are so many stories and reasons for the elderly to become diss-enfranchised.  No matter how much we plan and save for the future things can go terribly wrong.  The biggest threat to all elderly persons is inflation.   Savings and insurance which were considered adequate at their inception can literally evaporate over night.  Living on a fixed income is no joke.  I’ve heard stories of elderly Sr.’s who were reduced to eating pet food because their shrinking income and resources – homeless pets receive more attention than the elderly it seems.  Many people spend more to care for their pets.

Now let’s turn our attention to the health care issues of the elderly.  This is where the Government has become negligent not just only for the elderly but for all Americans in general.  An organization called the AARP is supposed to lobby in Washington on behalf of Sr.s but now seem to be in the insurance business to supplement Medicare at the elderly’s expense.  Why is it so much cheaper to buy med.’s south of the border and abroad than here at home?  Medicine manufactured here in the U.S. are cheaper outside the country!  The government needs to seriously regulate all business in the health care field to make it affordable to all instead of just giving unlimited financial access charging astronomical prices to the medical field through its government health care programs.

Planning and savings for retirement sometimes can not foresee the financial needs of growing old.

Oh; and one more thing – the government on all levels needs to stop spending our tax dollars on people who come to this country illegally!  This spending is in the billions.   Even if they are expectant mothers.  This flaw in the law should have been changed decades ago.  It’s morally wrong to steal money from those who have faithfully worked and paid into the system and let the Government give it to illegal aliens.  Because of this policy and other wasteful spending such as paying billions of dollars to foreign governments just to be our friends, that the Social Security program is in real danger of becoming bankrupt!

In today’s employment environment few employers offer any kind of retirement program or pension in their compensation package for their employees.  Unions and companies, who do have pension programs, have invested and lost huge amounts of money in the “Bear” stock markets.  401K’s are also tied to the markets health.  People use their homes as a source of savings feeling secure in the knowledge property and home prices will rise and return a substantial profit when sold.  Sadly as we have seen in the housing crash, this method of saving failed miserably.  Mortgages “turned sideways” and became worth less than the home price at the time of being purchased.  This was catastrophic for many Americans. 

Many elderly become unemployed when they are no longer able to work and Social Security is their only source of support.  There is low income housing for the elderly but there are waiting lists to get in and they are usually in the poorer areas of town.  Churches and other charitable organization try to assist where ever they can but more needs to be done.

Helping the elderly can be a truly rewarding experience.  They may seem rather testy at first but will soon warm up to your love!

The Government tracks the statistics and numbers of homeless elderly through the Census Bureau, HUD and other agencies.  Studies and predictions estimate the numbers will double over the next 20 years.  You can find much more specific information on the web and thru Google search.  The subject is gravely serious.  Sometimes it seems that many smaller countries do more for their elderly than we in the United States are doing.

What we can do?  Give them a smile or a little of our time.  A few dollars out of our own pocket if they should happen to ask.  Write to your government representatives – you know; those guys who will always vote themselves a pay raise and more benefits.  Make the Government keep its commitment to Social Security and Medicare for the elderly instead of misappropriating the funds for some other government program or war and military spending.  It’s just that simple!  Washington won’t act until they hear an outcry from the voters 

Four times the Government has said no to Sr.s.  Twice Washington has pushed up the retirement age and twice Congress has voted down the cost of living increases which the elderly were entitled to receive.  We should not be having this kind of disgrace unfolding on the streets of this country.  It’s truly an outrage in every sense of the phrase.  The problems will only get worse and by the time you and I retire it may be to late!

So; the next time you should see an older person who looks like a “no account bum”, someone who should be left to their fate, stop and think for a moment.  That could be you before you know it.  The old expression is so true; “There but for the grace of God go I”.

This is Felicity writing on the behalf of the homeless elderly and the Noodleman Group is advocating on their behalf.  Next week’s article will be dedicated to Pop Music!

Images of the needy "Homeless and Elderly.

*  All Photography and art supplied through “Google Images” – Title art and compositing by
F.B. Noodleman

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