Guest Author - Florence Cardinal
It's a fact. The economy is just as varied for the elderly as it is for everyone else. For some seniors, those who've managed to contribute to a retirement fund, or who are independently wealthy, finances are not a big problems. They're able to live as they please, where they please. They travel, shop and generally enjoy their retirement.
At the other end of the spectrum are those seniors who are trying to scrape by on a meager pension, living far below the poverty line. Unfortunately there are far too many of these people in prosperous countries like the United States, Canada and many European nations.
These people scrape by, often lacking a nutritious diet, unable to afford adequate health care, some without even a decent roof over their heads. You see them standing on street corners, looking lost and lonely. You see them pushing shopping carts filled with items - bottles, cans, even scraps of someone else's leftover meal, down the street. Bag ladies --- and men. The world's forgotten elderly.
How could the world have forgotten them? What have they done to come to this state of affairs? The truth is, they've done nothing. It's not their fault. They may have been raised in poverty and never able to rise above the line. They may have suffered tragedies that wiped away their savings and left them virtually penniless. Illness may have stolen their ability to earn and save for their retirement.
What can be done about these people? The answer is elusive. It involves us all, individuals, community and government. These people are our ancestors, whether we are direct descendents or not. They are the prototypes of the current race. We cannot let them stagnate and rust.
Do not shun them. Take them by the hand, literally and figuratively, and offer them, if nothing else, your love and support. Don't let them eat someone else's left over pizza. Buy them a meal. Better still, build soup kitchens and other places where they can get a hot meal.
Don't let them sleep on park benches, in shipping crates or on the street. Help them find a room, at least for a night or two, until they are rested. Better still, help in the building of hostels or low cost apartments where they can sleep in safety and peace.
These are the people who raised us, in one way or another, over the years. Many of them have families they have lost contact with or had a falling out with. Most of them are far too proud to return to those families and ask for help. Irregardless, someone has to help them. Who? Me. You. Our friends and neighbors. Community and on up to the heads of our countries.
Give the elderly - every last one of them - the respect and care they deserve. Let them live their final years with dignity.