OPINION

Care of elderly must be improved

Society’s insensitivity to elderly people is truly shocking, particularly when it is displayed by those whose job is supposedly to care for them. The public was astounded and outraged at the news that impromptu inspections of private nursing homes by Athens prefectural authorities found cases where owners of certain establishments were feeding their residents with food whose expiry date was long past. No doubt those examples were extreme cases of profiteering on the part of those who will stop at nothing – not even at submitting aged and weakened constitutions to unsuitable food – to make a few cents’ profit from each meal served. The victims’ unsuspecting families, who often pay considerable sums to ensure that their elderly relative is receiving a high standard of care, are being deluded, according to the results of inspections. There has been no lack of recent ministerial proclamations about «social sensitivity.» What starker instances of social insensitivity will it take to make people aware, to make them demand that a stop be put to this deeply problematic situation? And this does not only apply to everyday citizens, of course. The government and its services are being called upon to play a very important role. There still seems to be no solution to the problem of providing an institutional framework for the operation of many smaller nursing homes that do not have a license. Time, however, is passing and the public are right to be outraged, when instead of solutions they are simply being presented with more examples of violations and infringements of the law that demonstrate how this clearly unacceptable situation is being perpetuated. Respect for and care of the elderly has always been a major criterion for judging the quality of all civilizations at all times. Woe betide the civilization of the 21st century if the elderly are not only financially and socially marginalized, but encounter our own apathy and inaction when we are presented with evidence that they are being given food not fit for consumption.