Hear The Whispers Of The Elderly

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What’s on my mind? A catch-22. Most seniors at some point in their life are going to have to move into a care facility. Care facilities are expensive. It costs a lot to run them and retain good staff.

The life of nurses and nursing assistants are hard and grueling. Long hours, low pay, always short on staff and hard work.

Almost everyone depletes their funds unless you are very wealthy and eventually are forced to rely on government help. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the government to put more money toward these facilities so the monthly rent could be lower so people could afford to live in the facility and get care and not have to go on assistance? I’m not a finance person but it seems to me they might save money by putting it at the top end and helping facilities survive and helping keep the elderly off assistance.

Now that we live in a multi-level care facility, independent/assisted/memory care, I see an entirely different side of things. Our seniors should not have to worry about what’s going to happen to them financially and physically when they are going through health problems. I am old enough to remember the tv show Naked City. It opened with the line “There are 8 million stories in the naked city and this is one of them.”

As I talk to people I could say the same thing about people living in care homes across the United States. These stories get lost in all the politics. This is one of the things we should be protesting about. This is one of the things we should be fighting for. This is who you should be fighting for. The voices of the elderly in homes is silent because they can’t take to the streets and picket and let their cause be known because every day those who live in care facilities are just trying to survive. The young young ones don’t seem to want to take to the streets and speak for them. It seems to be accepted and gets talked about quietly but nothing gets done. And then there’s the paperwork but that’s another blog.

We live in a society where those who shout loudest win. I’m asking you to hear the whispers of the elderly.

Neighborhoods Have Rhythm

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Neighborhoods have a rhythm. Most of us don’t realize it because we get comfortable as we are part of the process.

We have been residents of this neighborhood for thirty years. There is comfort in knowing at a certain time garage doors will open across the street, one at a time around the same hour, and our neighbors will pull out of the garage separately to go their own way for coffee, coming back an hour later.

There is comfort in knowing what time our neighbors on the other side pull out of their place to go to work. We worry if we don’t see it or their cars are in the driveway at the wrong times.

There is comfort knowing another neighbor pulls into his garage after a night of work getting home safely.

Without being nosy it is just the rhythm of the everyday life of those we know and love.

Soon we will be elsewhere, getting used to another way of life and I will miss the things that give me comfort in our neighborhood. We watch out for one another without being overly invested in each others lives.

A few years ago I got a call from a neighbor wondering if we were home. There was a strange man walking around our house and they wanted to know if they should go out and see what he was doing. Just recently a neighbor contacted me about a strange car at the other neighbors. Usually this time of day they were gone. Did we need to be concerned because a stranger got into their garage?

Who would have thought ordinary comings and goings would bring me sadness. As I sit here this morning and watch the normal meanderings of my neighbors I am thankful for these neighbors, their friendship and their caring. Living in a new place with a new window in a new neighborhood, I will view new scenery but at the same time I will imagine the images of my past home; the garage doors opening, the neighbor’s leaving for their jobs and the neighbor home safely from his travels. I will be in a new space but the space in my heart reserved for these people that have shared our lives and our neighborhood spaces will always be there, always remembering the friendship, the kindness and the caring. Excuse me if that brings a little tear to my eye.

Appreciate the normal hum of your neighborhood. Take time to breathe it in and appreciate the people that are part of that. They may contribute unknowingly to make your life richer.

“When one neighbor helps another, we strengthen our communities.”

Jennifer Pahlka