To the Editor:
Almost every person in the United States is aware that income inequality exists. However, what is being debated is how big is the gap, how much of a gap is sustainable, and which income group is affected the most.
On Martha’s Vineyard, I believe that seniors suffer the most due to income disparity. They are the group that is forced into making very difficult choices between using their monthly income to purchase healthy food, see a physician, obtain prescribed medication, or maintain their home or apartment. In sum, they have no “discretionary income” to use to give gifts to their children, travel, or purchase new recreational products.
These are the same people who used to enjoy a life which gave them these opportunities. It is no small wonder that despite the Island’s sense of community and acceptance, many seniors feel depressed and unwanted.
For many of them, their lives seem to have become inconsequential to the middle-aged and younger generations they meet every day when shopping, going to the post office, or at a medical facility. They appear to have no common interests to share with other generations. Therefore, their actions fill the stereotype that defines them.
We have seen many efforts to improve their lives: These include senior centers, religious and secular events, improvements to our transportation system, and greater access to medical care. And while these reflect the Island’s commitment to helping all Island residents, it is simply not enough.
What is really necessary is to concentrate the Island’s resources in order to lessen the increase in yearly property tax increases, pave the dirt roads on which seniors live, improve transportation services by lessening the cost or making them free for seniors, and build more affordable housing/rentals to accommodate their families, caregivers, and providers of other necessary services.