December 13, 2009
Abandoned Senior Citizens
Are Americans prepared for the increasing numbers of elderly population? In the next century the oldest of old will be the fastest growing population in the nation. According to The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging (2005), the size and character of the elderly in the United States is rapidly changing. Since the 1900 most of the US population was under the age of 65, but this drastically changed over the course of the century. In fact, the senior citizen population grew from 3.1 million to 33.2 million from 1900 to 1994. Furthermore, by the year 2030, “one out of every five Americans will be a senior citizen.” Our society must prepare to handle the increasing number of elderly that are abandoned by family or have no family to care for them. As a result, the elderly are those who stand to suffer the most due to the lack of proper care. Longer life spans and infertility is creating a serious unbalance in ages. Moreover, with the continual growing numbers of the age group 65 and above, Americans may not be ready to handle the burden that will come with supporting the elderly. “Senior Citizen Population is on Brink of Explosion in World and in United States. This shift in the age structure of the world’s population poses challenges to society, families, businesses, health care providers and policymakers to meet the needs of aging individuals” according to the Census Bureau, (2009, Para. 6). To further illustrate the major impact Americans will experience due to the over growing elderly population, the Division of the U.S. Census Bureau published middle- series projections that gives a good demonstration of growth percentages from 1990 to 2050 by race.
Figure 1.0. Statistics of The Elderly Population Projections of the United States, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin The worst is yet to come for the elderly frail as an unbalanced society cannot or will not provide a helping hand. “In fact, while children are projected to still outnumber the older population worldwide in 2050, the under 15 population in the United States is expected to fall below the older population by that date, increasing from 62 million today to 85 million.” Census Bureau, (2009, par a. 6). These shocking numbers should be a wakeup call to our society to prepare for the impact on the financial strain the elderly will poses to their families. Consequently, children or families of the elderly will carry the burdens of making difficult decisions to help or to turn the other cheek and walk away. Moreover it will be the elderly who will suffer the most from being abandoned and forgotten in the care of hospitals, nursing homes, halfway homes, or hospices for someone else to worry about. The sad and unfortunate reality of what lurks beneath the decisions to leave frail and aging parents with others is the desire to be free or rid of the responsibility of caring for one’s elderly parents themselves. In time, the once young and viral independent adult who were able to contribute to society, have withering bodies that become sick, disabled, or suffer from decease and are considered too old and too much trouble to deal with. When the elderly are left alone; they experience health risks, mental instability, social isolation, loneliness, and depression (Saul, 1983). Truly one cannot image something worse than watching an elderly person’s mind slowly deteriorate due to lack of stimulation, emotional support, or love a lonely elderly craves. Typically, dementia or loss of memory sets in to the point that an elderly person cannot remember what happened from one day to the next. Eventually, the despondent elderly becomes sicker, or worse disabled from a fall or a non- curable decease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, which leads to helplessness, disorientation, bitterness, and anger because they...