Last days deserve best attention


Wendel Sloan

We can argue about politics, patriotism, science, religion, wars, pop stars, sports heroes, marijuana, immigration, gay marriage, guns, healthcare, climate change, parenting, genetic engineering, employment, minimum wage, taxes, education, social programs …

What we can’t argue with is at the end of life, none of it matters. In their final years — whether in nursing homes or at home (often alone) — everyone deserves the best care and companionship possible.

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I am not talking about extraordinary and expensive measures to keep the elderly alive, but extraordinary love, compassion and understanding.

Everyone dying was once young with endless summers ahead. Some achieved their dreams, others fell short. But, with few exceptions, all were kind.

As they approach the end of winter, they deserve no less from us.

They are also the reason we are here.

It’s easy to see the elderly as they are now, but picture them as they were — young, energetic and hopeful.

If we live long enough, we will be them. Then we will be at the mercy of the younger. Hopefully, we won’t wait until it is too late to wish we had been more understanding.

Most of us think we are, but thinking deeply about our own final days will enhance putting that understanding into action.

Help an elderly person unload their groceries; mow their yard; teach them to use a computer.

Find an elderly person living by themselves or in a nursing home, and call or visit. Discuss their family photos. Take them on an outing.

When an elderly person complains about their health or depression, be genuinely empathic.

Listen to them without thinking their wrinkles and diminished health make their present lives or past achievements any less important. Admire them for having lived a courageous life.

Even if you’d rather not, find the time to brighten an elderly person's day. We owe them no less.

Can we at least agree on this?

Contact Wendel Sloan at:

[email protected]


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