Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

No enhanced care for the elderly thanks to Florida politicians


Dear Editor:

Moving down to the lowest rung of our society are those who lost their job, are poor, homeless, wandering mentally ill, institutionalized and at the lowest level, those warehoused. The latter group is in so-called rehabilitation, nursing home or assisted living facilities.

Fifty to 60 percent of the residents in those facilities have no relatives nearby, have outlived their relatives or friends, and consequentially have no advocates or visitors. From day to day all they see are staff uniforms. If they are very lucky, they get placed into a wheelchair and taken to a dining room for meals. Most of the clients had to wear diapers all day because there isn’t enough staff to take care of them. While it may not be that bad all over the country, 24 states, including Florida have decided not to accept federal money to enhance their care. Why politicians have decided it’s more important to be re-elected than to take care of the people they were elected to serve so they reject the money, which would help the bottom rung of our society.

I had the opportunity to entertain at 40 of the larger facilities in the central Florida area. I did each of the 40 groups repeatedly for four years. This gave me the opportunity to see the cream of the clients. The most alert were brought in order to see me. In a few cases, all the people that were wheeled into the room appeared drugged.

Unfortunately, my wife had a recent accident, so I could see firsthand what went on in the best facility around. What I found ranged from cold food, wrong food, onto the more serious of not responding to distress calls, wrong medicine and wrong medical treatment. Now remember, this was the best! If you don’t have an advocate you become a “Lost Soul.”

There are many organizations in the area that say they act as advocates for those that are alone. In the 10 days my wife was at the facility, except for a very few family or friends of clients, I saw no one from these “advocate support groups.” One of the things that I have found is, that although there are many groups of this nature, most people join mainly to get their name on the roster, just to say they belong and only a very few actually visited.

Now let’s go back to the “Lost Soul” who sees no friends or relatives who lies in bed or sits in a wheel chair all day. What goes on inside the clients’ mind? Part of my show was to doing some magic. At one point of the magic portion, I make things disappear. I then asked if anyone would like me to make them disappear, but warned them I was not sure I could get them back. Only one woman raised her hand. She was in her late 70s, had both legs amputated; no one came to see her, and she probably sat in a diaper all day. She raised her hand very slowly, and in a desperate sounding, voice said, “I would like to disappear!” Now close your eyes, and visualize yourself, in that chair!

Bill Kahn



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