Perception or reality: Our seniors

Photo of the oustide of The George Washington University Hospital


We all, one day, will be seniors, including your children, grandchildren and other loved ones. So why don’t we respect and care for seniors now? We continue to allow the bureaucratic system to discard people’s loved ones as trash. Many scrape by, isolated in dilapidated housing, or find themselves no longer able to afford the rent. Some end up wandering aimlessly, unable to seek refuge from inclement weather, unsure of where to take care of their bodily functions and struggling to carry their life’s possessions wherever they go.

On the most recent bone-chillingly cold night, I found an acquaintance of mine on the steps of the temple at 14th and K streets NW, unable to move. I used to know this woman, now in her mid-60s, years ago when she was homeless in D.C. We had just reconnected two days prior, the same day she was flown back from federal prison. When she told me she couldn’t move, I made sure 911 was called.

When the ambulance arrived, I tried to ride along to look after her. The driver had not even wanted to bring her personal bag with her, much less me. From the onset, he treated her differently than he might have treated someone of better economic means. He insisted her bags would be there, on the street, when she got back. While most of our stuff was left behind, it took me a while to persuade the driver to bring her personal bag, which contained medicine and vital personal items.

It is illegal to leave an animal out overnight in poor conditions, yet okay for an ill homeless senior to be left abandoned on some cement steps.

As I write this, my friend is still recuperating at the hospital five days after I found her. Most of the staff were quite accommodating to both of us, with the exception of two nurses. Her doctor had even participated in the annual Point-in-Time Count to survey the homeless community sleeping outdoors.

Nonetheless, the hospital has tried to discharge this woman at least twice. I’ve been staying there as much as I can to make sure she gets the care

she needs. Unfortunately, a homeless individual will not get the same attention that an average citizen would, unless someone is there with them.

We are in a new year, but our elected officials bring along some old games and unfilled promises, camouflaged as they may be. They continue to play upon your intelligence, line their pockets and bring joy to developers who are all too happy to gentrify our city and displace our seniors.

Yet you continue to sit like a lump on a log, silently accepting anything and everything they say and do. Come on, folks — wake up! If we don’t unify and stand, stand, STAND for something, we’ll fall for anything. What does not adversely affect you now will do so soon. Like it or not, at the current velocity at which we are traveling, you can pretty much rest assured that some of your peers, family members and loved ones will find themselves catapulted into the ever-increasing ranks of the homeless in 2018.

What is this United States of America, home of the free and the brave, coming to? Who’s free? The wealthy, the haves, the powers that be? Free they might be. But brave people do not suppress others to elevate themselves. Perception or reality?

We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Let’s do this thang together. In this new year, I wish you peace, blessings and success in your endeavors. I am truly grateful and appreciative of my readers. It has been very uplifting this past year to have personally met some of you. To happen across someone and hear them say, “Hey, I have read your column and enjoyed it” really makes me feel good.

And I haven’t forgot about you Lilah, you little princess! I trust you and your family are well. I miss you and hope to see you soon. Keep up the good work in school!

Issues |Disability|Health, Physical|Living Unsheltered|Senior Citizens

Region |Washington DC

information about New Signature, a Washington DC tech solutions and consulting firm


email updates

We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.