It’s no mystery that many of the successful TV shows and movies these days have themes of life during and after some great event that nearly finishes off humanity. Be it an invasion of aliens, lousy weather, nuclear war, comets and asteroids falling from the skies, disease pandemics, or even the dead coming to life to feed on the living… us humans are seemingly on the brink of extinction.
As the world economies collapse, critical life-sustaining services like electricity and water will be non-existant, and food will likely all be looted from the stores and warehouses inside of a week (not to mention, not getting Social Security or Meals-On-Wheels anymore). The characters usually depicted in these films are typically those people who are ambulatory enough to scavenge for food and water and a means to defend themselves from a threat from outer space, fellow marauding humans, or dead Aunt Edna hungry for living brainfood. I was wondering while watching one of these 2012-inspired end-of-the-world features.. what happens to the old people?
Let’s face it, a post-apocolyptic future for the aged, or even the infirm, is more bleak than the plots would ever lead you to believe. Oh sure, it’s all sci-fi, but it does make a sobering point… as seniors begin to depend more on others for their health and well-being they (we) become more vulnerable in our ability to survive. For example, I’m required to take meds for my blood pressure and type II diabetes and elevated cholesterol. Sure, I might be physically able to tote a gun for defense and food… but loss of medications might end up making me meet my Maker sooner (although, in my case, one could argue that with the loss in junk food, loss of TV, and hustling around to survive, I’d likely be better off medically in a post-apocolyptic world). But you can understand my point.
The scarey thing is you don’t have to watch a sci-fi movie to understand how this can happen. Remember Hurricane Katrina? While many medical staffs of hospitals and nursing homes made valiant efforts to save patients and residents, some seniors were left alone to suffer in fear in the rising waters, many drowning… their caregivers having run off to save themselves or their own families. Even the police abandoned their posts to save themselves or tend to their own property and families in need. Disasters, natural or otherwise, are a real threat to the survival of those in need. Reality dictates you can be the most dedicated nurse or caregiver or policeman but when a situation becomes desparate enough as to threaten the lives of our own loved ones… well, you know the choice that’s likely to be made.
So what do we do about it? Likely nothing. Sure, in a regional natural disaster certain plans can be placed into effect for care and rescue from the rest of the country. But a post-apocolyptic world is no place for the aged. It’s likely for the better anyway. We would be gloating on the “old days”, and with our medical maladies (and our inability to procreate in the effort to re-populate the planet) we’d simply end up a burden to the young.. who will have their own responsibility; cleaning up the mess and starting over.
Wait, there might be some hope! Maybe Hollywood will come out with an end-of-the-world movie staring a senior as the action hero. “Grandpa Rambo Meets The Walking Dead“. (images of Stallone in a wheel chair armed with long-needled plastic syringes, hurling them with dart-like precision while flipping the switch on a portable difibulator, having dragged the paddles on the floor into the liquid he emptied from his portable catheter collection bag thus assuring a shocking end to those nasties chasing him… scary!) Come to think of it, Stallone is old enough to play the part! Wait a sec… so is Harrison Ford, Arnold (the Governator), Van Damm, Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Samuel L., uh… after Tom Cruise, who’s left to save the world for us aging Boomers?