Commentary of ’89 : Sally C. Russell on Care for the Elderly

During 1989, many Orange County residents wrote about their thoughts and feelings in commentary pieces for Orange County opinion pages. As the year comes to a close, we look back on some of those thoughts.

For the past year, I have had the privilege of working as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization that provides home services to seniors who are disabled or temporarily incapacitated. Their goal is to help the elderly remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

On one of my recent weekly visits to deliver Sarah’s meal, I was met at the door by a social worker. She had determined that Sarah needed to see a doctor, but there was no one to take her. I volunteered to drive her as soon as I finished delivering the other meals on my route. I later found that she had been taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Later that week, I went to the hospital and was greeted by the discharge nurse. Sarah had been discharged several hours earlier but the nurse could find no one to take her home. Since that day, by default, I have become a contact person for Sarah, a name and number on her file.


She and others like her are falling through society’s safety nets for lack of a central individual, someone who can coordinate the various social services provided by these support groups. Someone who can speak for Sarah and those like her.