By Richard E. Noble
I was sitting out on my front porch when I heard a yell. It sounded like a call for help. It was coming from the campground in front of my home. My first thought was that it was just some children playing. But then the voice whined out for a second time. I couldn't imagine why someone would be whining for help in this thriving, peaceful metropolis of Eastpoint but when the voice continued several more times, I decided to put down my book and stroll around to take a look just in case.
I followed the sound of the voice and ended up behind an old trailer where I found an elderly gentleman sitting on the ground. Something had started leaking inside his trailer and he had come to the back of his trailer to shut off the water. He walked with the help of a cane and his cane was laying on the ground beside him. It seems that he had got down on one knee to enable himself to reach the cutoff valve and found that he was unable to get himself back up to a standing position. He told me that he had been sitting there for over an hour calling out for help.
I tried to get the man to a standing position, but I couldn't. He was a large man and he had very little strength in his legs. I went knocking on doors in the park to get someone to help me.
The first trailer I tried had an elderly man who had just returned from the hospital himself. He had tubes up his nose and was wheeling an oxygen bottle around with him. The next home had a woman who had just had a knee operation. She was also living by herself and, of course, was unable to assist me. I went to several other trailers. They all were occupied by elderly folks who couldn't possibly help me get a 200 pound man up and onto his feet.
Finally I flagged down an SUV that was passing through the campground. I think, at first, they thought that I might be crazy, or maybe that I was a part of a roadside hold-up gang but eventually the man who was driving the vehicle came with me.
We were able to get the old buck up onto his feet but it wasn't easy. He had been squatting there behind his trailer so long that his legs were just about useless. We managed to get him over to his front steps. He didn't want us to call an ambulance or anything like that. He just wanted to sit awhile and regain his strength.
In assisting this man I couldn't help thinking about my older sister who is 70 years old and lives by herself on the second floor in a condo in San Diego. She had some bad luck recently and was also using a cane to help her get around.
About a week or so later I was looking up the demographics on this big city I was reading about. The city had a population of 80 thousand and one of the statistics listed in describing this community was that 10% of the population was elderly who lived alone. The city was approximately seven square miles. It had 10,000 people per square mile. It was obviously filled with apartment houses and tenements. So it seems there were 10,000 old people living in tenement house apartments. Many on second and third floors, I would imagine. This was also listed as a poorer inner city community. It had a senior housing development for those with limited funds, but there was a five to seven year waiting list.
One can not help but to think about all those jokes about "I've fallen and I can't get up" or those electric wheelchair commercials where we see all of those old people buzzing around apparently having the time of their lives in their new "freedom" chairs. They seem to be having so much fun, I imagine that some younger people watch the commercial and find themselves yearning to grow old.
One of the disadvantages with being old enough to collect a Social Security check is that you now are old enough to die with everyone's approval. I mean nobody says, Oh what a shame, and he was only 65 or 71.
Every year old people die from the heat in the summer. In the winter hundreds maybe thousands of old people die because their apartment gets too cold. I've read that on the average it cost $1500 a month to heat a home up north during the winter and we all know the expense of cooling a home here in Florida during a hot spell.
I wonder how many old people are living alone here in the United States? I wonder how many are living alone in trailer parks or on the second floor in a slum tenement house or condo? I wonder how many call out for help and no one comes? I wonder how many fall down and never get up?
Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for around thirty years. He has authored two books: "A Summer with Charlie" which is currently listed on Amazon.com and "Hobo-ing America" which should be listed on Amazon in the not too distant future. Most recently he completed his first novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" which will be published soon.