Out With the Old

Respect your elders. We were told that as far back as I can remember. When you’re a little kid, everyone over 20 looks like they could be in their 70’s so it’s good if someone tells you that they’re worthy of respect even if you can’t quite figure out why.

Some disturbing cases of elder abuse have been surfacing lately. There’s the couple in Toronto who warehoused his Mom in an unheated garage while the rest of the family and tenants lived in comfort a doorway away. The 68-year old was found unconscious from the cold without a scrap of food in her belly. She’s off a ventilator but still on a feeding tube. It’s grim.

Actress Katherine Ross, from The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, has just obtained a restraining order against her daughter whom Ross claims has always been an angry, violent kid. But it has escalated in recent years and Ross says now that the 26 year old stabbed her in the arm with scissors.

But Mickey Rooney’s case has to be the saddest and scariest of all.

The 90 year old silver screen legend has become an advocate against elder abuse, testifying before US congress earlier this month. Rooney also obtained a restraining order against his stepson whom Rooney claims held back medicine and food and sold off the actor’s Oscar. “When a man feels helpless, it’s terrible”, Rooney said.

With his stepson out of the house, Rooney’s 9-decade career is back on a roll. He’s just been cast in a film set in a retirement home alongside 94-year old Ernest Borgnine. We’ve got to protect our elderly because most of us hope to be among their numbers one day.