Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 8:25:17 PM
As people age their bodies begin to deteriorate, but their minds are still alive and active within. They still desire to communicate, to love and to contribute to society. However as life progresses, a series of loss begins. People retire from their jobs, losing the daily routine they practiced for decades. Children move from the area to start their own lives, and as people become ill and age, spouses are widowed. What kind of impact does this leave on someone? It leaves them with a lasting and agonizing sadness, a sadness that worsens to depression. Of the elderly in America 6.6 percent are depressed. Although this statistic is not alarmingly high, the presence of even one older person depressed as a result of loss and lack of societal involvement, is enough reason to make a change.
Over 1.8 million people in America live in nursing homes. The rate of depression in such facilities is 13.5 percent going to show in homes, elderly are twice as likely to become depressed. The reason for this is often as simple as isolation. Even though they live in areas created to make life easier and more convenient, accessibility is a struggle. As I have witnessed in the case of my own grandparents, by 90 and 95 years of age, it is a task to get out of a chair and walk to the bathroom, let alone walk to the activity room or banquet hall.
Most recently in English class, my class has chosen issues that we are passionate about, and that we intend to help improve. In this “Be the Change” project, I selected an issue I have experienced firsthand with my grandparents, and something that has directly changed my own heart. For this reason, in the effort of erasing the effects of elderly depression, I have chosen to specifically center a program on visiting and volunteering in nursing homes in 2013.
To show appreciation to the older generation, the youth in my church youth group have began planning a regular cycle of visitation to local nursing homes. As the Vice President of the group, I have educated the leaders as well as my fellow youth of the significant changes we can make. In this month, we hope to visit homes to sing Christmas carols, and in future months, continue bringing joy and excitement to them, right within their rooms. Every Sunday we gather as a group, and two Sunday each month we aim to reach out. With one Sunday dedicated to a pre-existing program of visiting shut-ins from our church congregation, an additional opportunity for service in visiting elderly in homes will greatly increase the difference being made. It will also continue to open the eyes of my peers to the saddening issue that has affected me so greatly.
Life is meant to be lived, and as long as each and every one of us is alive, we should not be deprived of the simple pleasures that make life worthwhile.