Every Thursday, the Anne Arundel County Sun publishes a section highlighting the lives and activities of our senior citizens. We've told you about weightlifters and karate practitioners, world travelers and local Good Samaritans. Their stories reinforce the promise of "the golden years" when we retire.
But there's another side to growing older, the tarnished side to the golden years. It's there you find the elderly who aren't healthy enough or wealthy enough to enjoy the promise. They're closed off from the rest of the world, living in nursing homes, closeted in tiny apartments and drafty trailers, sometimes praying that death will free them from facing another day.
Medical advances have stretched life expectancy; many parents live to see their children's children graduate from college and begin a life on their own.
But the retirement cushions they've come to depend on -- pensions, Social Security and medical assistance programs -- haven't kept pace with technology. And when their health begins to fail, the money our parents socked away evaporates.
Reporter Gary Gately interviewed more than 125 people who have witnessed firsthand the tarnish on the golden years. What he found in his five-month study is a county ill-prepared to cope with an elderly population that is growing faster than anywhere else in Maryland.
Today through Wednesday, we will take you into the nursing homes and elderly group homes; we'll let you listen to children trying to care for their parents at home and we'll let you hear what the health-care workers say about a system that someday may watch over all of us.