Shut-in and Shut-Out of Society; the Vulnerable Elderly Population

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Shut-In and Shut-Out of Society: The Vulnerable Elderly Population James Estes
Excelsior College

Increasing concern over the impact of health problems associated with the elderly shut-in population has fostered the attention of communities and public health professionals across the country. However, despite the attempts of local and state services, many members of this group are being overlooked and basically forgotten. The objective of this project was to directly observe, record, and participate in the daily efforts of volunteers as they develop, organize, and implement services that aid in the healthcare maintenance of shut-in elderly. Objectives were met by dedicating service hours to this vulnerable population and observing methods to improve their quality of living in the areas of healthcare, personal hygiene, nutritional settings, and ability to seek assistance with activities of daily living. These observations were aimed at diminishing the ever-increasing factors of morbidity and mortality in this aging group. Appropriate actions were organized and accomplished by the overall collaboration of community senior citizen programs and local hospital volunteer efforts. Each member of this group was screened for specific needs and assistance was provided based on the member’s health condition and financial instability to receive healthcare services. Among the findings of this volunteer effort, the main observation concluded that the overall quality of life and health were improved for this vulnerable population. Positive impacts were noted with the interventions provided by public and private cooperation. Volunteers were in great demand and the supply of these dedicated servants was limited. Funding also allowed for the varied services performed and this aspect of the program was also limited. While the time frame of this volunteer service was limited, valuable insight was gained by the participant for this vulnerable group. Concerns still remain that this group of elderly shut-ins will not receive the attention and sustained care they need to prevent further more complicated health issues.

The adverse effects of moderate to severe health issues coupled with loneliness and bitter depression has become a standard of living for many elderly citizens in our country. Many of them are isolated and confined to the barriers of their home or skilled care facilities. They lack both the physical ability and financial ability to seek and address certain basic needs that all human beings need to survive. Health interventions must be made available to this group of deserving citizens at both the local community and higher government agency levels. These elderly members share many chronic illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, renal failure, and varied forms of cancer to name a few. All of them have been abandoned by their families for one reason or another in the past few years. Divorce, deaths, and emotional segregation have led them to a life of isolation and despair , thus leading to descention from their families or next of kin. Loss of family contact has forced them to be dependant upon the efforts of society and welcome whatever assistance with certain humility and grace. Volunteers spend hundreds of hours with these elderly shut-ins to provide health need necessities and safety in both their home environment and outside activities. Transportation, meals, housekeeping tasks, pet care, and simple conversational time are awarded by the efforts of the volunteers. Many of the dedicated individuals are senior citizens and they can empathize with the current struggles that are faced by the ones they help. The members of this vulnerable group face many risk factors both physically and psychologically. They suffer from various health issues with leads them to increased risk for falls and injury, malnutrition, skin breakdown, depression and...
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