Voting is more important than ever for seniors

By Cynthia Wilson

I took mom to vote yesterday.

This cherished act is something a lot of seniors didn’t get to do this primarily election season for reasons ranging from an illness or disability to new voter identification laws that now require photo identification to cast a ballot.

voting day in a small town

Voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

Sure seniors still have the option of casting an absentee ballot. But that’s easier said than done for many people like my mom, who is blind.  Without me here to assist her, she likely wouldn’t have made it to the polls or gotten the eligible photo ID that is now required to vote in our state.

Voting by mail would have been difficult too if she lived alone, because she doesn’t read braille. Mom relies on me to keep her informed about the candidates.  And no, we don’t always agree.

But the thought that she might not vote because of her disability upsets me because mom cherishes this right. She listens to the news all the time and while there are some things she doesn’t immediately understand, she knows that some proposals being touted as solutions for seniors and long-term care will lead to cuts to her benefits.

She recently learned from a friend she attends adult day care with that he is getting $100 less in one of his monthly benefit checks. Her 80-year old friend doesn’t know why his benefits were cut.  Regardless of the reason, that’s a lot of money to a senior on a fixed income. And it will have a major impact on his ability pay his rent and meet co-pay requirements for the medical and long-term care services he receives.

Now more than ever, it’s important for senior citizens to vote if they can in local and national elections.  Medicare and Medicaid will be front and center issues before and after the November 2012 elections. If those issues are not they should be because the programs are paying out more money than they are taking in.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, referred to by many people as Obamacare, imposes payment cuts on select provider services and new Medicare taxes on investment income to help fund preventative care services and coverage mandates for Americans. Nonetheless under current laws, the program still is expected to pay out more money than it takes primarily because millions of Baby Boomers will retire over the next 20 years.

The people who win state and federal seats will decide how to fix that.

Spending cuts are on the table for both the Democrats and Republicans, but Republicans want to privatize Medicare, something that I am against.  I think privatization is just another way of saying “guaranteed profit”.  In other words, some insurer will be guaranteed a profit to give Americans back the money that we are required to have deducted from our paychecks or pay taxes on from other earnings income.

I don’t think that anyone should be guaranteed the right to make a profit from the savings Americans were forced to set aside.  Why? Because seniors will ultimately lose something to make that profit possible when they are at their most vulnerable.

There’s a lot at stake in the November election for seniors and elder care.  Help them find a way to get to the polls or get their absentee ballots casts.

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I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at

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