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Gazette readers come to aid of senior

An elderly woman struggling to cover the cost of living has given heartfelt thanks after readers of this newspaper came to her aid.

Along with the hardship of meeting rising costs while dealing with her husband’s declining health, she described the difficulty many seniors faced just in asking for help.

“It makes you feel like you’re begging,” she said.

“You have to really think about it, pray about it. They ask you so many questions when you look for help.”

In her close-knit East End neighbourhood, “people would rather go to one of their friends or neighbours and ask them if they could get a meal for a day”.

“I have never had to ask neighbours, but they will come to me and, naturally enough, I make sure that I can give them a meal.”

In her community, she said, “people don’t like publicity and they don’t like people to be talking about them — but sometimes we have to speak out because we can’t keep on suffering”.

She said that other elderly residents along her street had contemplated setting up “a senior association, just our own circle”.

“You would be surprised to know that a lot of people are suffering, but don’t want to be identified.”

She described resourceful means of stretching her food budget: a goulash shared with a senior neighbour would be enough to last three days, for example. But her husband’s dementia, combined with his prostate cancer and faltering eyesight and hearing, came at a high price: adult diapers are particularly expensive.

She receives help from her relatives, but told of a deep reluctance to ask for more when her children and grandchildren face pressing bills of their own.

The woman learnt of the passport cost after her grandson had offered to take her on a holiday.

“I did need money for the passport,” she said. “I definitely need to get off. A break would be a good thing. We used to go on trips years and years ago, but after going 65 and having to retire, things started to go downhill. I just feel like I’m going down, down, down.”

However, she was deeply gratified by the help she had received after her story was printed.

“I want to say thank you very much,” she said.

“I am lucky enough to be in a position to help in a very small way,” an anonymous reader said after covering the cost of the 80-year-old woman’s passport renewal.

Another reader who contacted us, asking to be connected with her, said that it was “important for all of us to be reminded that we all grow old and will one day hope that if we get into similar difficulties, someone will reach out to help”.

“I know what it is like to have someone who struggles and does their best to live right and pay their way.”

One 63-year-old woman who contacted us said she was “now faced with a similar thing that seniors a lot older than me are facing”.

“Bermuda is becoming a very expensive place for people who can no longer get jobs. I’m only 63 and it seems like nobody wants you any more.”