Just because the stereotype portrays today’s elderly American as docile, rocking chair bound and cookie-baking grandmas and grandpas, it doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Surely, some – if not most – of us look forward to the day we can retire, slow down our pace and reacquaint ourselves with the concept of relaxation, but for others, it’s all about making a statement. If that “statement” happens to make the international news, well, then, all the better. Such as the case with Sister Megan Rice.
In the summer of 2012, a Catholic Nun, Sister Megan Rice, along with two accomplices, successfully broke into a defense facility that housed enriched uranium and nuclear bombs. Once you get your mind around the fact that a nun was involved, it then evolves into the real problem: Three people – amateurs – successfully bypassed national security. The plant is located in Tennessee.
Sister Rice owned up to her role – she admitted to cutting a fence, traipsing across the lawn of the National Security Complex and successfully spray-painting the exterior walls of the facility. Even when a security guard caught the trio, they simply turned their attention away from their graffiti to the guard, who was serenaded and offered food by the trio.
While this is a very serious case, the first question many of us had was why would a faithful nun opt to break the law; and a federal law, at that? Our beliefs and convictions are powerful and for Sister Rice, there’s no doubt she believed the ends justified the means – even if there are conflicting stories regarding the basis of the ends.
This case has brought up a few important points. As elder law attorneys, we have seen the role volunteerism and activism can play in a senior’s life and now, a new study further cements that belief. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Kyungpook National University conducted and in-depth study on the effects of stress and depression on people who are over the age of 85. It found that positive life events, such as a landscaping project in their backyard, the birth of babies, marriages and family reunions, greatly reduced the levels of depression they were feeling.
Many seniors look forward to spending their time in a volunteer center or getting involved in politics and other social issues. As we know, elders often feel isolated, which leads to an elevated susceptibility to depression.
Anytime they lose a friend of family member, those feelings of isolation and depression rise. Not surprisingly, those older than 85 are the ones most susceptible.
Ruth Dunkle, a social work professor at the University of Michigan said, “It is important to examine the issues of stress and depression among elders over the age of 85 as they are the fastest growing age group. Understanding mental health issues among the very old, allows us to design services targeted to help this specific age group.” The government is doing its part.
The Affordable Care Act now provides one of the largest expansions of mental health we’ve ever seen. Mental health services must be provided, at no cost, as part of a health insurance plan – whether it’s private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. This means access to important mental health resources are now available and affordable to those who might not have had these opportunities in the past.
As we know, the new healthcare laws are still settling. If we can help you or your loved one in his efforts of securing long term care insurance, Medicare of Medicaid, we invite you to contact our office today to discuss your options.