Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

What Golden Years?

 


They landed at Normandy, were shot at by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, endured the Inchon landing, sweated it out in the jungles of Vietnam, lived day after day in the expectation of a Russian invasion of Western Germany, or fought in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern theaters--in defense of their country.

Most of them endured the Great Depression, where the minimum wage for those who were lucky enough to have jobs was 25 cents an hour; only to see their country morph into a wartime environment of full employment, but of often heart-breaking sacrifice.

These were the Americans Tom Brokaw described in his 1996 book, “The Greatest Generation.” And great they were; but look at what has happened to them now.

Now they're trying to live out their remaining years in some degree of comfort and contentment in a variety of senior citizen environments, only to discover that their host is often their enemy.

At independent living and assisted living environments across the country those who spent a major portion of their life defending their country, or were the spouses or widows of those who did, now find that the life that is so glowingly portrayed in slick, full-color promotional literature, or lavishly described by fast-talking marketers, is something short of what they had anticipated.

And this is a national disgrace. It borders on elder abuse, that our senior citizens who have given so much for their country, must endure the life of deprivation at the hands of people who had promised them so much.

As they stare woefully at a meager dinner offering of overcooked, tepid food, or gape in amazement as the housekeeper makes her weekly whirlwind tour of their small apartments, they may wonder: “What happened to the country I spent a major part of my life protecting and defending? Am I not due some degree of respect and comfort?”

At the end of the year they view with dismay the news that their retirement incomes are diminishing, yet their rent will go up dramatically. After all, in the year to come the investors in the corporation that owns their living facilities will expect a healthy return on their investment, and spending money on quality food, or wasting it on workers' salaries, is not the way to make money.

One begins to wonder after time and sad experience, why are those who are revered and respected in most cultures taken advantage of and abused by the country that once proudly proclaimed itself to be “The mightiest nation on earth?”

Hyperbole, you may ask? Perhaps. But reality; definitely. Just ask any senior living in your average independent living or assisted living facility. Some will answer honestly; but most live in the fear of losing those few scraps that are thrown their way.

If this is not elder abuse, what is?

July is a busy month

You never know what you can learn on the Internet about July. For example, the month was named in honor of the Roman general Julius Caesar; it being his birth month. There were also a number of other significant events that occur during this month over the history of our nation, and the world.

For example, two centuries ago, on July 3, 1775, George Washington assumed command on the Continental Army as the U.S. of A. was aborning. Two days later the arrogant British King George III turned up his nose at the Olive Branch Petition the Continental Congress submitted to him in an attempt to reconcile the Patriots' unrest with British domination of the Colonies. A month earlier Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution before the Continental Congress in Virginia stating that “these United Colonies are, and ought to be, free and independent States and that they should be absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown... and the trouble began.

On the 4th of July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, and we all know the rest. Or, we should.

Other nations that celebrate their independence during July are: Algeria, Venezuela, Argentina, South Sudan, the Bahamas, Colombia, Belgium, the Maldives, Peru, Venezuela, and the Republic of Vanuatu, a South Pacific republic founded in 1980.

For two centuries now the United States of America has grown and prospered—off and on. But even despite occasional dips our country has done quite well for itself—until now.

Two hundred years after the dust up with the Crown began, the often miraculous growth and stature of the United States of America has been a beacon and an inspiration to nations around the world.

July has been a significant month for Americans. Our Constitution was ratified on July 2, 1788, and throughout the years that followed, the month of July produced some significant dates.

On the second of July, 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot at the door to the train station in Washington, DC, and died on Sep. 19th of the same year.

On the Fourth of July, 1872, Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the U.S. was born, and on the 6th of July 1747, John Paul Jones, of “I have not yet begun to fight” fame was born. Also on the 6th of July, 1885, Louis Pasteur gave the first anti rabies shot to a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog.

On July 7, 1898, President William McKinley signed the annexation resolution that brought the Hawaiian Islands into the family. In 1959, the islands became the 50th State.

The 6th President, John Quincy Adams, was born on July 9, 1767, and on the 13th, in 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which further allowed for U.S. expansion on the continent.

On the 14th the Bastille fell in France, which launched the French Revolution, involving our former allies in the American Revolution. Two years later the Birmingham Riots occurred in England.

On July 19, 1848, in Seneca Falls, NY, the woman’s rights movement was born in the U.S.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo Astronaut Neil Armstrong brought the U.S. presence to the moon, by making: “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.”

In 1932, World War I veterans, fed up with their government's failure to live up to bonus promises made following World War I demonstrated in Washington, DC. Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur, Maj. Dwight Eisenhower, and Maj. George S. Patton, were instrumental in quelling the riots that ensued.

And on the last day of the month in 1790, the U.S Patent Office began issuing patents, the first of which went to a Vermont man, Samuel Hopkins, who came up with a new method of making potash. The patent was signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

July's birthstone is the ruby; its birth flowers are the Larkspur and the Water Lily.

Read Carefully

One of the inconveniences of seniority is diminished vision acuity. For many old timers reading the daily newspaper is somewhat of a challenge; the crossword puzzle increases in difficulty as it becomes harder and harder to read the clues. And on and on it goes.

What's particularly irksome for older folk is trying to read instructions on medicine bottles, and on a variety of products senors purchase as a part of living out their daily lives.

Seniors buy products designed to enhance daily living, only to find a booklet of instructions printed in the smallest type size available, and often times in what the foreign writer assumes is standard English, but which is, in fact, almost as hard to discern as the overall product.

So, here's your average senior citizen with a potion or a product he desperately needs, only to find that the product carries a warning “Read these instructions carefully!” And then to find not only are the instructions or warnings printed in the smallest type-size available, but they're often written by some foreigner for whom English is a second or third language.

So, this is the plight of many of our senior citizens: They acquire a product they want or need as a part of safely carrying out their daily lives; only to find its impossible for them to “Read the instructions carefully!”

This is one of the many paradoxes that accompany seniority.

 

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