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"In" and "the" are words so small and common that they are barely noticeable, but like a speck in the eye they can change the nature of your world.

Suppose friends invited you to be their guest at a classy fine restaurant—one you can’t afford to go to even though you have wanted to—and you knew there was one chance in a million that at mid-meal a waiter would deliberately pour a gallon of warm chocolate pudding on your hair and under your shirt collar. Would you go? Sure, it’s only one in a million; a remote chance.

But if the same deal was offered and you knew that you would be the one out of a million people getting the chocolate surprise would you go? No way! Being the one out of a million is a sure thing.

Two million elderly live in long-term care (LTC) facilities in the US.1 Sixty-eight percent of these do not get more than one visit from an outsider in one year. No family comes calling, no friend drops by, no visitor, except that once-a-year (probably) guilt-induced event.

Forget the TV ads showing elders in a whirl of games and crafts and parties. All that is true but it is a different group—healthier folk living in residential care communities. Fewer than a million of them, and we are thankful for the happy activities they have, but . . .

. . . let’s go back to the 1.2 million with one visit from an outsider in one year—a condition not much better than solitary confinement! Would you like to be one of those 1.2 million? I couldn’t take it; how about you?

The church (collectively) is called to care for all who are distressed. Well, 40% of the LTC residents are depressed. Loneliness, aimlessness, lack of productivity, boredom, monotony, anxiety, fear of death—some of this in everyone. We need to do all we can to make it better.

I’m in. How about you?

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