Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Don’t forget veterans, seniors in the new year

The new year begins tomorrow, and tonight we all celebrate the passing of the old. Those of us who are in the midst of our Third Age rejoice at the thought that "we’re still here." It’s always a pleasure to wake in the morning and find oneself still in this beautiful world with its ever-changing panorama just outside the window. Of course, for most of us, our New Year’s plans include the loss of some unneeded weight and sticking to the regular exercise plan, but this year I hope perhaps we can add a few other things to the list as well.

The turning of the year often brings to my mind thoughts of the boys we lost in the last worldwide conflict, World War II. So many of them were loved ones. That was the war I experienced, one way or another, every day for many years, and I worked, along with every other citizen of this country, to help us win.

The brave veterans of that war are dying out now, but unfortunately others are taking their places in our veterans hospitals and homes. We did well by our brave men as they returned after the last world war, and I hope we can make it a priority to help those who are returning to our country after active service this time.

When the last war was over, the Montgomery GI Bill allowed those who had served to come home and get the education they needed to help us build a wonderful country for our children and ourselves. I hope we can find a way to do as much for our grandsons and granddaughters who are now veterans of conflicts in so many parts of the world.

After the last worldwide conflict, we provided hospital services that included the best kind of care for the traumas of battle that so many of our soldiers are forced to carry into their lives as they try to find a place in society to make a living and found a home. Let’s not forget these wonderful men and women in our rush to maintain the commerce and industrialization that has made our nation what it is.

I also hope and pray that as we move into 2008, our conflicts around the world will end and we can move ahead into the new world of telecommunications and globalization to help keep our country strong and our citizens engaged in work they enjoy. We also need to remember that we now live in an aging society, like it or not. It is a worldwide phenomenon, and the numbers of those in the midst of their Third Age will only increase.

These are people who must have their needs understood and be encouraged to take their rightful place in the ongoing affairs of the community in which they reside. It would be a serious mistake to believe they are useless and good only as consumers of medical and social services. They are people growing in wisdom and understanding, and they deserve to have their desires met.

We can and must afford to set up cutting-edge medical and community-based services for our returning soldiers, just as we must afford to provide proper housing and a place in the community for those who will live a long time.

As many of you know, there are scientists who believe we can and should try to keep ourselves alive to a very great age. This kind of thinking deserves to be acknowledged and examined but also must include questions about the wisdom of such a journey.

To lengthen lifespan, we must solve many problems related to serving this kind of "great age." Proper medical and social services should be high on the list, as should housing, recreation, education and finding a place in the life of our collective community.

It would be a very interesting adventure for those who are up to the tasks involved, and this year might bring some answers to many of the questions to be faced. For tonight, ring the bell and beat the drum and kiss the kids. Life might be shorter than you think. Have a wonderful new year.

By Ann Gowans


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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