Monday, March 19, 2007

The Crisis in Elderly Care

In recent weeks, NBC Nightly News has begun a series of reports entitled "Trading Places: Caring for your Parents." The series began with the personal stories of NBC reporters like Brian Williams, Tim Russert, and Ann Curry, each of whom is dealing with an increasingly common question: what should I do with my aging parents? Baby boomers are beginning to experience sleepless nights as they worry about their mothers and fathers, and legislators should start to worry, too. The fact is that eldercare is already a national problem, and soon will become a national crisis.

The plight of elderly Americans is a top concern for the Center for a Just Society because this population is at significant risk of abuse and neglect. In my law practice, I have spent decades representing elderly men and women who have endured unspeakable nursing home abuse and neglect. Avoidable pressure ulcers, falls, fractures, infections, malnutrition, dehydration—all are common problems among the institutionalized elderly. Short staffing characterizes the operation of too many nursing homes and many corporate predators operating facilities put profits over people and revenue over residents. The care of the institutionalized elderly is becoming a national disgrace. If these conditions prevailed at Abu Ghraib or in our nation's daycare centers, members of both parties would be foaming at the mouth, calling for reform. However, because the abused and neglected victims are elderly and frequently "out of sight," the problem is all too often ignored...

Read the rest of Ken Connor's grave and compelling column here. And consider printing this off to pass around to the leaders in your church. As Connor suggests, Christians are increasingly in the dark about issues relating to the elderly and that's a failure we must work to correct quickly.

For more information on elderly abuse, you can begin by looking through the FAQs on this page.