Name: Grace Kim
From: Los Angeles, CA
School: University of Southern California
Throughout my middle and high school years, I have consistently been drawn to care for the elderly. Most recently during my junior year, I had organized a group of church members ranging from elementary school aged to adults in their fifties to visit an institution named Sophia-Lyn Convalescent Hospital. This state-run facility was built specifically for low-income residents and was notorious in the area for being of low quality.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching story of all comes in the form of an elderly lady who I will call L. L was nonverbal as far as I could tell, but despite this, we interacted in many ways. When we visited,
she would be sitting in the common area, which was just a small room with some folding tables, coloring sheets, and a TV. Unlike many of the other patients, she was always dressed neatly and her outfit
always included a hat. When we brought nail polish, she would love to get her nails done and would be so pleased with her pretty red nails. As Christmas time approached, we purchased gifts for all the residents, but we bought personalized gifts for a few of the residents who we knew individually. For L, I had bought a hat with a striped ribbon and had attached artificial poinsettia flowers. I was excited to give L her presents, but when we arrived, I couldn’t find her in her usual spot. We continued our regular visitations, but there was no sign of her until finally we found her in her room in bed, obviously sick. The employees told us that she was suffering from a bladder infection. Despite this seemingly small problem, she
was so frail that it was catastrophic for her and she would likely die. She would not respond to us, despite our best efforts, and finally we just prayed over her and left her gift on her pillow. It
broke my heart to see L like that, so sick and alone.
My encounters will L and with the other residents showed me that in many cases, the elderly are the forgotten people of our society. They, who were once so vivacious and have contributed in so many ways to society are checked into institutions like these all the time and are left there until their deaths. This shameful reality is something that many people don’t realize or think of and I believe that this
is wrong. I believe that all people should have dignified care at the ends of their lives, despite their mental or physical conditions or financial status and I hope to use my skills in marketing and advertising to expose the need for reform in care for the elderly. It is our duty as youth and adults to remember our elderly so that they will no longer be the forgotten ones, but those who receive love and
honor at the end of their lives.