Elderly Patients Face Tough Barriers When Voting

Law_Politics2.jpgIn this election year, it is important to recognize the barriers faced by some Americans in exercising their right to vote. Recent testimony before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging highlighted the impairments many senior citizens face in making it to the polls.

Many older adults live in long-term care facilities or are home bound. They are frequently unable to travel alone, and are dependent upon others to arrange for transportation to vote in elections. This support from family members or care providers is by no means guaranteed. Access to polling stations is highly variable across the nation, with no national regulations guaranteeing voting access.

In Australia and Canada, mobile polling stations are set up in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and rural areas during national elections. The testimony given to the Senate encouraged the adoption of a similar program in the US.

As the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double by the year 2030, we will see an equivalent rise in the number of people living in long-term care facilities and requiring assistance to perform activities of daily living, making national programs such as mobile polling stations even more important during election seasons.

It is imperative that family members and caregivers take the initiative to aid older patients in voting. Hopefully this testimony before Congress will result in a mobile polling system that will take the polls to the patients, enabling them to participate in elections freely. Until this is implemented, however, its up to you and me to make sure our elderly relatives and neighbors get the assistance they need to take part in choosing our leaders.

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  • bryant

    shouldn’t choosing the leaders who will determine the direction of the future be left to the masses that will actually experience the effects? I’m not anti-AARP, but as a college student I find the idea of letting the increasingly increasing number of senior citizens who often have a very ingrained (and often reactionary) sense of how the world should be and are whose beliefs are often antagonistic to the hopes of our generation controlling this direction to be very disconcerting. Many of these people don’t understand the future of the planet as we young’ins do and still retain many ignorant, preconceived notions they acquired in a much different time and state of the world. Besides, since when does senility ever increase one’s decision-making abilities? I for one don’t want my future determined by people who tend to fear the future, rather than embrace it.

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Lindsey Kay, MD

Lindsey Kay, MD, is a medical doctor with training in pathology, and an avid writer. During his training, he worked on pre-clinical and clinical trials in a variety of laboratories related to alcohol effects on the brain, cancer diagnosis, and alternative medicine.

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