Adult children can't expect government to take responsibility for elderly parents
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It is after being in office for about two weeks and receiving several calls of the following nature that I pen the following to my Virgin Islands people at home and abroad and especially those asleep: The aging among us are dying lonely, miserable, depressed, destitute and impoverished, and many have lost hope and the will to subsist.
The last phone call I received agitated me to say something publicly even though I am sure most of us don't fit the bill.
Question: How is it that two parents can take care of five children and five children can't take care or two?
Let's say an elderly lady with a strong Tomian accent, age 78, has a husband 83 who is bedridden and she is left to fully take care of him; and let's say they have three adult children living the American nightmare, I mean dream.
They give their parents the impression that they are absolutely happy where they are, and they can't spare the time or the dime to take care of their parents, the same parents who refinanced their house to pay for their children to attend collage even though they themselves did not attend high school.
Now in their twilight years dad is bedridden, and mom physically can't labor any more.
I ask the question again: Who's responsible?
Over the years, Virgin Islanders from the most meager of circumstances have produced children who have risen to the highest level of respectability; we have produced neurosurgeons, admirals, teachers, clergy, inventors, writers, network engineers, hedge fund managers, business experts in most disciplines, and many trades men and women who build and construct everything that makes a country move.
But in our pretentiousness some of those who are most successful have forsaken their parents and are forcing them to live a life dependent on a government whose finances are depleted in part by mismanagement, corruption, nepotism, greed and the like.
The overriding issue is: Who's responsible for our aging parents? Historically, governments don't do a very good job providing efficient services, and our parents are to be treasured in their twilight years.
Now, I am a social worker, and I am fully aware that some family dynamics are filled with anguish, distress, pain and hurt and that over time they never overcome the past hurt; however, most of us claim some spiritual power in our life and every authority of a spiritual nature promotes, incorporates, implements forgiveness - all of the so-called great religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
How much of a hypocrite could one be if we turn our backs, literally, on the ones who produced us? I am making an appeal to all to return to the land of your parents and see after them.
Our government does not have the resources to adequately provide the most basic of care consistently for the elderly.
Our seniors are filled with pride, and when you call or send a letter and you ask them how are they doing, 99 percent will say they are doing fine. I am here to tell you that many are not. A significant percentage of our elderly don't need to live alone. They need the companion of their family, not a home health nurse as the primary contact with the world.
God bless all of the agencies and departments that provide this much-needed service; however, when the nurse leaves at noon, 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. that is the last contact with people until the next visit, and some contracts don't provide weekend services.
I will be working very closely with our local Human Services to create legislation to protect our elderly; however, not one elected official can legislate love. So I ask for the last time: Who's responsible for the aging parents of the Virgin Islands?
- Sen. Clarence Payne III, St. Thomas