Haims: The ‘Age Drain’ has consequences | VailDaily.com

Haims: The ‘Age Drain’ has consequences

In general, being cautious of what you say in public is always a good idea. In a small valley such as Eagle County, keeping your nose clean is important. An error in judgment could have unintended consequences such as finding out that you have quietly been placed on the outside of “the circle.”

I sure hope that I don’t find myself in such a situation by addressing the following. Someone needs to ring the alarm bell and take charge in leading our community to take action in addressing the needs of our aging population.

With so many nonprofits in Eagle County, I wonder why there are less than a handful that provide for the elderly. I’ve asked a number of my contemporaries and business associates why they think this is. Across the board, I hear most people surmise that people choose to support the “future” — thus our youth. Maybe those that have the means to donate feel the young solicit sympathy, compassion and hope. Donating to this cohort may be rewarding.

I get it. I have two young children, and I do my best to set them up for a successful future. My wife and I value education, the arts, sports and feel a great sense of responsibility in ensuring we raise confident, healthy, compassionate and well-balanced children who have purpose.

Within Eagle County, we have an exorbitant number of charitable organizations with great missions. However, think for a moment about any that are focused on our elderly. Can you name just one? I can think of only one local organization: Caregiver Connections. (If I missed such an organization, my apologies, please educate me and let me know of organizations.)

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Why is it fulfilling and emotionally rewarding to assist those starting their life journey and very different for those nearing the end of life’s journey? Does the end not deserve respect, gratitude and even dignity?

While not a nonprofit, there is the Alpine Area Agency on Aging (970-468-0295), which supports many mountain communities with services that promote independent aging for the elderly. If you feel inclined, they would be grateful for any financial support. They also offer many volunteer opportunities.

A friend, and longtime local nurse, called me a while ago asking to borrow an oxygen compressor that had been donated to my office. It seems that my friend was trying to assist a person who was in a situation where private insurance, Medicare and/or Medicaid, were not options for providing such a basic need as oxygen. I’m also aware of another recent situation where a longtime local elder couple was no longer able to safely drive and had therefore missed numerous medical appointments. One such missed medical appointment was for a review of heart medications. This missed appointment may have been a factor in a subsequent heart attack.

There are numerous stories of such elderly people who have contributed greatly throughout their lives that now find themselves in need of assistance. Unfortunately, within our valley, the charitable organizations that focus on assisting our communities’ elders are non-existent. Have you ever thought about how many veterans live in our valley? What about retired educators, nurses and service professionals that reside in our county? Is it concerning that many are forced to make choices that jeopardize their health and lives? Unfortunately, too many cannot find basic services and medical specialists. Sadly, such lack of services and attention cause too many to move away in order to meet their aging needs.

How do we, as a community, support and assist these individuals? Do we care that they devoted their lives to serving others and made Eagle County a great place? Now that many of our community elders live in need of help and services, do we have the inclination to help and give back?

Next time, when looking to donate your time, resources or dollars, think outside the “box” and think of a way to be of service to this segment of our population. If you are willing to help and have time or money, touch base with me. I know established organizations that would appreciate your help.

Should you have any questions, suggestions or ideas about this column, feel free to reach out to me. I am looking for help and guidance on methods to give back to those who have given so much to our communities and more.

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