There’s a particularly disturbing news story coming out of Michigan. A 93-year-old man froze to death in his home just days after the municipal power company installed a “limiter” device that restricted the man’s use of electricity, because he owed more than $1,000. The device limits power to the home and shuts off the electricity when usage rises past a set level. It’s not known whether the elderly Bay City man — a World War II veteran — had been told how to reset the device to restore power. When his body was discovered, the temperature in his home was below 32 degrees.
What a heartbreaking story! The golden years are supposed to be times of rest, relaxation and joy for our seniors who have spent the majority of their lives working and raising children. But too often they find themselves in situations where they face life and death choices, such as whether to have heat or buy groceries. Or whether to buy medication or pay utility bills.
At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we see senior citizens who are experiencing these painful circumstances. They may need a good, nutritious meal. Or they may be unable to pay their heating bills and need a warm place to sleep. Sixty-five year-old “Jonathan” came to DRMM after a fire destroyed his home and he had nowhere else to turn. Medical problems, including a cancer diagnosis, made the future even more frightening and lonely for him. We provided Jonathan with a roof over his head, clothing, food and access to medical care.
Our seniors have a lot of pride. It’s difficult for many of them to ask for assistance. After all, they’ve survived life-changing events like the Great Depression, World Wars, civil rights disturbances, and natural disasters. Through it all, they made a way for themselves. Don’t we owe them some compassion in return?