When asked – what day it is? Sam froze like a deer in headlights. At age 89 he thought he was doing just fine and was able to answer the first few questions okay, but that “day” question – boy that was a doozy. He couldn't quite get the month and year right and he was a few Presidents behind, but knowing that he wanted to live in his own home and be independent – that he was unequivocal about.
Of course, none of the “good” stuff mattered to the psychiatrist who opined (for a sizable fee I might add) that Sam was incapacitated and in need of a guardian, despite the fact that on balance, the “good” may have outweighed the “bad.” None of that seemed to matter since at 89 and being a bit “pleasantly confused,” aren't all old people presumed to be unable and unfit to manage their own affairs? You would certainly think that's the case observing a guardianship proceeding on any given day in any given court about any given “old” person.
The truth is the “old” in this country are subject to abject discrimination, yet we do very little to stop it or even call attention to it, yet ironically it is the one form of discrimination that we will all experience at some point in our lives if we live long enough.
Apart from being discriminated against, the “old” are routinely abused, exploited and neglected, regarded more as a burden that we must endure rather than a valued treasure to be venerated. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and indeed we should all celebrate the cause of freedom for which Dr. King stood. But who will be “Marching on Washington” for the millions of “old” people discriminated against every day in this county and who's voices have been silenced to mere whispers? For many older adults, the “dream” that Dr. King so passionately preached about has been reduced to a nightmare from which they never awake.
Surely as a society we can do better than that.
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