Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Safety vs. Independence

clouds over Arizona, my home
I read an article in the paper on Sunday by Larry Neumeister titled,"Superstorm Was Cruelest to Elderly" (you can read an on-line version of it here.)  Superstorm Sandy claimed victims of all ages, but those over 65 were especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons.  Older adults often have mobility or health issues which are affected when evacuation is necessary and power supplies are lost.  The article states that many elderly residents decided to stay put even when advised to leave their homes which were in the storm's path.  This leads to the question, "Should senior citizens be forced to evacuate when there is danger or should they remain autonomous in their decision making?"  No one wants another human being to perish in a natural disaster when there was plenty of warning and opportunities to avoid this scenerio.  But then again, I don't want someone making decisions for me just because I am a certain age that society deems incapable of weighing risks and doing what I feel is best for me.  I want to retain the right to stay at home, if I choose, in such a case.  What do you think?


  1. Great question! There is no doubt in my mind what the answer is though. I think that anytime there is a mandatory evacuation no matter your age, you need to listen to the professionals and do what they say. No material possession, including a house, is worth the risk of losing your life. When the 2010 fires in Texas almost burned my father's house and he didn't evacuate, I got so upset at him. We can always rebuild the house and buy new things for the house, but we cannot replace him. He later acknowledged his ignorance in staying behind to protect the house. We were blessed to not lose any life or property, but it could have been very different.

  2. Since I am from NJ and so many there were devastated by Sandy, I feel that this really hits home with me. I definitely agree, that when there is a mandatory evacuation...you heed that advice. People, especially the elderly...who may not be thinking clearly because of the stress of the situation (or impending one) and other age-related cognitive difficulties should ESPECIALLY be made to leave. It is for everyone's own good. If an older person decided to stay and then when the storm really hit, got scared and panicked...what happens then? Even if the local authorities say they won't go out and rescue those who stay behind, I cannot imagine any first responder ignoring the cries for help. Then, the emergency personnel are put at risk too.

    I understand your point Laurie and I whole-heartedly respect that you don't want to be told what to do just because you've had one too many birthdays. I am a little bit of a rebel too, but when your life is literally at stake and the potential for others to come into harm because of you staying behind, I think you should be forced.

    Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared for always bring the unexpected. Over the years, we've seen the devastating consequences of what happens when people refuse to leave their homes. Hurricane Katrina is an exaggerated example, but yet it happened and many lost their lives.

    I hope that as you get older, you will forget how you feel about this and go willing IF there is ever a need to evacuate.

  3. Evie and LindaLee, I know and love you both! I feel I have totally been "schooled" by your comments and have thought a lot about them this evening. It is a bit selfish to assert an independence that puts others in danger and may have hurtful consequences for our families. If nothing else, we are here to take care of each other. The world is a better place, and will continue to be, because of the two of you - that is something I know for sure.

  4. You are very kind Laurie, thank you. I am also a true believer that we are all here to help one another. Thank you for this great blog and sharing your brilliant mind and insights! I am better person for it!!


Please let me know what you think. Your voice and story are important to this space.