The Star-News


Getting old isn't any fun these days

Sat, Oct 23 2010 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

Do old people matter? I'm not talking about those 30- and 40-somethings who are viewed by teenagers as well past their expiration date.

I'm referring to the been-there-done-that-paid-my-dues--took-care-of-my family-and-obligations-and-now-it's-my-time-to-say-and-wear-what-I-want-while-I-enjoy-my-retirement old.

The question may seem like an insolent one but given what local and state governments go through virtually every year, it's one worth asking. And if the answer is yes, the next question should be how much do they matter?

It was just a few short years ago the city of Chula Vista was threatening to turn out the lights on the Norman Park Senior Center's Tuesday night dances.

The years-long tradition had been a popular activity for the area's silver-haired set. For many it was their only opportunity to socialize and reconnect with a world that seemingly had forgotten them.

As you might imagine, a budget deficit was the poo in the punch bowl and the dances were scheduled to cease.

However, an anonymous donor stepped in and saved the dance parties.

Fast forward to 2010 and now it appears as more than just the dances are going to be cancelled.

Faced with another budget gap the City Council is talking about making severe cuts to the Norman Center and other recreation centers. There's talk the Norman Center could be completely shut down.

On Wednesday more than 100 people marched to City Hall to protest the proposal.

The Norman Center scenario is indicative of an even more troubling pattern of behavior at the state and national level.

When money's tight the first things to go are the programs that are needed by those in most need.

Certainly, senior dances shouldn't be lumped into the necessity column, but all too often other programs that are integral to seniors' well being are put on the chopping block.

More than once has funding to disabled senior citizens been threatened. Time and again seniors find themselves scrambling to find places to live as state subsidized low-income housing is slashed. And yes, even little things that make a big difference - like weekly dances and cool zones - are cut from existing programs.

Elected officials will tell you that tough decisions have to be made. And they're right. When there's little money to go around, something has to give.

It just seems that something is always the one thing that's supposed to help our elders.


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