The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Our Readers Speak

September 25, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013

It’s wrong to ignore elderly and disabled

I am deeply saddened by the current situation of the elderly and disabled citizens of our state. Over the last 40 years, numerous valuable programs were created to meet the needs of our most vulnerable adult residents.

The programs developed gave adults who cannot care for themselves the means to meet their basic needs, the best possible quality of life, the opportunity to  live in the least restrictive environment and the ability to retain some sense of dignity.

Now, all of this is changing.

In recent months, the reduction in services/programs, including the Aged and Disabled Waiver, has caused our elderly, disabled and sickest residents to be deprived of the support, care and assistance they so desperately need to remain safely and effectively in their homes.

Many such residents have died or had to go to nursing homes while they waited for help. Some of them have no family or support systems that can provide the needed care as they wait for the state to recognize a remedy their plight. They cannot wait any longer.

In reviewing this horrible situation, it is evident those state officials who are allowing the lack of services to continue are actually, according to Chapter 9 of the West Virginia Code, guilty of abuse and neglect of adults who are physically and/or mentally incapacitated, and unable to protect themselves. They are also in violation of the Human Rights Act which mandates that all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, have the right to meet their basic needs in a safe environment.

How can we, as a state, overlook and ignore this situation. The Aged & Disabled Waiver program alone has more than 2,000 people with severe illnesses and disabilities who are waiting for help.

Failure to recognize and remedy this dire situation by our governor, the Legislature and DHHR means those affected are basically being abandoned and left to experience low, painful deaths. Our state leaders need to realize this situation not only affects other people, but also impacts them, personally and directly, at some point in time.

None of us are going to live forever and we do not know what illnesses, infirmities or limitations we, or members of our families, will face in the future.

Martha J. Hager, LSW

Oak Hill

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