Supporting the elderly

Thank you for your excellent analysis on the challenge of long-term nursing care for the elderly [``Health care costs,'' Feb. 25]. I have been involved actively in this field and can testify that critical attention, imagination, and compassion are needed with this problem. The pitfalls and massive expense of government involvement (medicare/insurance) must be considered. Profit-taking at the expense of the elderly is scandalous and unnecessary as practiced by Home Health Care agencies in local communities. These are the very agencies that would apply for federal funds.

There is an intelligent, cost-effective, and more reasonable way to attack this problem. It is through senior citizen centers found in most cities and communities.

Much of the assistance in these centers is voluntary. I have seen greater caring and good, balanced results, both financially and emotionally. Even if credentialed and salaried individuals were placed in these centers, it wouldn't cost one-tenth as much as an impersonal bureaucracy.

With community-oriented attitudes and efforts, we could begin to meet this need. Legislators and city officials should investigate and act upon such possibilities. Shirley Selby Escondido, Calif. Civil rights and baseball

I just finished reading Red Barber's article on Branch Rickey's effort to put a black player in major league baseball [``One who was there recalls Branch Rickey's fight for civil rights,'' Feb. 26].

It is important that Rickey didn't forget the way he felt when he saw his black catcher crying over having dark skin, and it is great that Barber remembered the ``big picture'' in terms of sports' healing effort for humanity. Such observations keep the issue visible, lest we re-sink into this or other prejudical modes of thought and behavior. Rod Carlson Miami

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address to ``readers write.''

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