Help! Very Old People! They Will Hurt Our Children!

Hi Readers — Here’s a heart-sinker:  A Minnesota community doesn’t want a facility for Alzheimer’s patients to move in, because old people, even though supervised, might hurt  — or even traumatize by their very weirdness — their kids. So much for diversity. So much for community. So much for compassion.

As John Tevlin writes in this great Star Tribune column:

Nearly everyone who spoke against the facility had concerns that their children might be attacked or see an elderly adult do something inappropriate.

But Janelle Meyers, housing director for Prairie Lodge Assisted Living unit, also run by Ecumen in Brooklyn Park, said children are regular guests there. The caretakers of the most severely affected people are highly trained. “They know the residents very well, and can anticipate when problems are most likely to occur,” she said.

Meyers brings her son to work frequently, and there is a day-care center directly across the street.

“They bring the kids here on a regular basis,” Meyers said. “They do crafts and sing. It’s good for both of them to have contact with each other.”

“Some people don’t have respect for older adults,” Meyers said. “They are undervalued, and, personally, I think that’s so sad.”

I think so, too. And the fear of old people seems as misguided as it gets. I guess the same old truth prevails: The more separated we are from any group of people — by race or creed or, now, age — the more we begin to fear them. Even geezers. — Lenore

40 Ways for Kids to Volunteer!

Hey Readers! This just came in over the transom (okay, over email):  A lovely list of really great ideas for how to get kids volunteering. For instance: Take shelter dogs for a walk. Babysit to help a single parent.  Form a clean-up crew to go in and help a senior clean her apartment.  And so many more!

This is a subject close to my heart. My son and I help out in a homeless shelter and he’s there sort of sub rosa. Most volunteer jobs — like most other jobs, even newspaper delivery — now insist that participants be at least 18 years old. Yes, for insurance reasons. And also for not-believing-in-kids reasons. Discouraging volunteering is  yet another way to discourage kids from taking responsibility and connecting with their community. So check out the list and be inspired! — Lenore