In 2008, I became a certified nursing assistant with the goal of working with the elderly. I was raised by my grandparents, which gave me a deeply rooted appreciation for seniors, and I was looking forward to caring for other people’s grandparents in the years to come. I did my clinical work in a veterans home, which included time on an Alzheimer’s wing and care for the severely disabled.

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Shortly after being certified, I got a job at a senior care facility and spent the next few years working there, supporting myself through college. Residents ran the gamut from the newly retired to well over age 100 and from fairly independent to wheelchair-bound or in hospice care. I learned about their hobbies, their kids’ names and their favorite foods. I held their hands when they were worried, bathed their aching bodies, put them back to sleep after nightmares and grieved when they died.

Though my career has taken a turn, it is with that unique perspective that I watched the coronavirus pandemic unfold over the course of 2020. It is safe to say that for all the ways the government has let down the general population this year, it doesn’t compare to what it has done to its seniors. The devaluation of their lives during this period is just a microcosm for their treatment as a whole. The truth is, America mistreats its elderly — we’re all just used to it.

Learn about the ways we’re letting our seniors down and what we can do to ensure seniors get the golden years they deserve.

Last updated: Jan. 26, 2021

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