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Have we forgotten about our elderly?

This week I welcomed the announcement of the date for the upcoming referendum on children's rights. For too long, a small percentage of our children have been abused and ignored by either the church, the state or wider society and sometimes by a combination of these. It is to be welcomed that we, at long last, have recognised that children are more than objects, which should be seen and not heard, they are after all, our future.

This announcement combined with recent news events have got me thinking about how we care for all groups within our society and more importantly those groups most at risk of depravity and neglect. Due to the decades of misery and torture, institutionalised children were put through, societies minds have focused, quite rightly, on ensuring past mistakes are never made again. However, I personally believe in our haste to protect children, minorities and other perceived vulnerable groups, we have forgotten about one of the most vulnerable groups within our society, the elderly. 

I read a piece in one of the national newspapers just today about the case of the sixty five year old man in Sligo, who was tied up, beaten and left to die in the hallway of his own home. I was shocked to read within that same piece of other crimes committed against elderly people in the past two months. It was truly shocking. For years the elderly have been cast into nursing homes, only for us to discover in the last number of years that many of these were run more like concentration camps than homes to care for the elderly. We also have a massive issue in Ireland with the elderly living in isolation. We always hear how mental health cuts are going to impact on my generation, in particular men. No one ever considers how an elderly man or woman, coming to the end of their lives and living in isolation on a day to day basis must feel. The government and the HSE seem to think that once you wheel some home-help in for a few hours a week that that somehow constitutes a fulfilment of their moral obligation and that once an elderly person is assisted physically that they’re being well looked after. Quite frankly, I believe that to be absolute nonsense. But whatever about all of these, the thought that some animals are now targeting the elderly in their own homes absolutely sickens me. 

In that same story there were six other stories of elderly persons getting attacked and robbed within the previous two months. The Government has abandoned the elderly, the HSE has abandoned the elderly and now we seem to have a justice system, which can no longer protect them either. I could of course stop the blame game there and place the responsibility for the their care at an institutional level but as we all know, yet choose to ignore, we are all responsible for the care of our elderly Irish people. I believe it is incumbent on every single Irish person, to stand up to anyone or anything, that threatens their safety or health, whether that be the Taoiseach of the day or a low life criminal.


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