Updated: May 25
Written May 20th of 2020. The year of the pandemic
This is no country for old men, or old women, for that matter. Except, of course, if you're running for President or you're simply part of the ruling class.
One of the horrible things we're learning from the pandemic is that Covid-19 is taking a heavy toll on our elderly, especially those confined in those institutions we've misnamed nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I saw a Cbs report this morning that included this terrifying bit of information: "Of 89,000 coronavirus deaths in the US, 28,000 are connected to nursing homes.''
Hey, maybe we should start calling these places warehouses for the old who've become burdensome, or perhaps change the name to assisted dying facilities. OK, fine, you're right. That's overkill on my part. But then again, it seems that for some reason, there's a coronavirus overkill of our elderly in these facilities that are supposed to take care of them. Something's wrong and we urgently need to fix it.
I know -or at least I'd like to think so- that most of these facilities are well run and staffed by competent, compassionate people. I know that there are families that cannot care for the elderly at home. I'm not saying people are getting granny and grandpa out the way because they've become inconvenient. I know it's very difficult to have to decide to place an elderly relative in a nursing home or assisted living facility. And I realize that many of the Covid-19 victims at these facilities had some kind of pre-existing, life threatening condition. But, still,
these numbers about how many of our elderly at these facilities are getting sick and dying from Covid-19 are frightening.
As far as I know, the statistics are bad enough, but not as alarmingly high, on the elderly who live with other family members or independently. And, if you look at many of our elderly national leaders, they seem to be doing well. President Trump will turn 74 next month; Joe Biden, his likely Democratic rival in the November elections, is 77; Senator Bernie Sanders, who gave Biden a run for his money in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, is 78; House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 80, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is 78. Now, aside from whatever you may think about their politics, they seem physically active and, as far we know, they haven't contracted Covid-19. And we could talk here about this -let's say unusual- moment in American history where we have so many senior citizens in leadership positions, but that's another matter.
What should concern us above all else is why so many of our elderly in our nursing homes and assisted living facilities are getting sick and dying from Covid-19. I find it tragic that it's not as important an issue as it should be.