Social Services decided to open up octogenarian dispute settlement centers today in Tampa and other cities across the nation. The purpose of the centers is to serve seniors and help them resolve problems with older family members over the holidays. A spokesman for Social Services said that older members of families are frequently forced together during the holidays just because they are blood related. Frequently, nobody else is living, spouses have passed on and sons and daughters live too far away and get too few hours off for Christmas to make the trip to see these people.
"Getting together with someone just because they are blood related is not a good idea," say counselors at the ODS center. "We've had octogenarians push each other down stairs, get into fist fights, throw food and skillets at the other. One even threw the contents of the bowl on the collapsible toilet next to the bed stationed for late night emergencies at her sister. Anger and age can truly be a deadly combination. These folks are also more vulnerable because of the susceptibility to breaking bones which have become brittle over time."
Councilors say that at the ODS centers participants will learn Gestalt therapy methods in which one person says something while the other listens and then has to repeat back what that person has said.
"I understand that you feel angry when I get controlling and start telling you how to do things. Is there anything more?"
Participants are not allowed to elaborate on anything else and cannot talk out of turn. Also, participants are encouraged to use only "I feel" statements when addressing relatives instead of the usual, "You bastard! What the hell are you doing?" Everything must stay very scripted.
"It's a bit like training adolescents," one spokesman says. "There is a lot of conditioning that needs to go on."
A spokesman for Social Services said that Bubba Hotep would also be available to assist hard cases where participants seem delusional, or report Elvis sightings, or seem haunted by ghosts or mummies.
"We get a lot of them down in Texas," he said.
To receive services, all visitors need is their social security card and a picture ID. No appointment is necessary. If transportation is a problem they can call and make arrangements to be picked up.
The dispute settlement centers will be open December 15th and run through the 15th of January. Centers will be open 24 hours a day. Names of all clients and participants will be kept confidential. No charge is required. In emergencies, councilors can make house calls, but it is not encouraged. They are needed on site to be ready for the next client.
If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch with your local octogenarian dispute settlement center. You'll be glad you did unless, of course, you get hit in the head with a bed pan.
"We can teach an old dog new tricks."