Larry Anderson Sr., an elder and veteran from the Navajo Nation. Photo by Donovan Shortey dshortey  dshortey

Taking care of the tribal elders

This past week was a little precarious health-wise for some of my elderly friends and acquaintances, especially those who live alone. That got me to thinking about support lines we should have if living alone.

One of the great strengths of tribal tradition was taking care of our elders. Often in extended families, several generations live together, the elders ever have company and care. But that is not always the case in contemporary society, especially for those who live in urban areas with far-flung families.

Here’s some things that happened this week: One friend, about 70 went outside in icy conditions to take some items to a recycle bin. He slipped and fell, dislocating a shoulder, but managed to get back inside. Fortunately, his wife returned home after several hours and got him to the emergency room. Got thing he didn’t get knocked out and suffer exposure.

An elderly bachelor who regularly comes to the Senior Center did not show up for a couple of days, so friends contacted his family who went to check on him, having to crawl through a window for entrance. The elderly man was found lying on the floor inside his house, possibly having had a stroke. He was quickly taken for medical care. That intervention probably saved his life.

Another dear elderly friend, who lives many states away keeps in tough regularly by phone almost daily. Last week, he was out of contact and did not respond to cell phone, for many days, unusual.

Finally, I called the local police where he lives to request a welfare check. That is part of their job and they were very helpful. I learned that my friend had been hospitalized for a serious medical problem, now thankfully released and back at home.


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