Protect The Region's Elderly From Abuse
The Caribbean Is One Nation.
|Our Elderly Citizens|
Today, Thursday,15th., June 2017, is designated World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day. Throughout the world, governments and social partners, are expected to highlight the plight of those elderly citizens, who have fallen victims to abuse. Attempts will be made to illuminate citizens better understanding of the different forms of abuse meted out to the elderly, and encourage them to assist wherever and whenever possible, in helping to reduce and eventually eradicate such abuse.
The Caribbean governments via their officials, such as ministers and heads of various state agencies will regale us with the flowery speeches that we have heard on these designated days. Most citizens may conclude that they have heard the speeches repeatedly and wonder if they have had any real impact in preventing our elderly form the dangers of abuse.
Fifty years ago, in our region, growing old did not present the challenges faced today. Most families were proud to look after the old folk and guarantee them some comfort in their golden years. Many elderly citizens major fear was spending their last days in a government geriatric care facility known as the almshouse. The stigma of that happening was avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, with the disappearance of the extended family, many of our older citizens, have found themselves caught between development and family loyalty; family loyalty seems to be losing the battle and the state is now expected to care for those elderly citizens, who have been abandoned by their children and other family members who, in many cases cannot look after them or have the financial ability to give them proper care.
Throughout the region, in the last twenty years, many private facilities have sprung up and we are placing the elderly in these facilities. The reluctance to enter these “homes “is slowly abating and the private home care industry is experiencing a boom in many Caribbean countries. However, these homes are rather expensive and cater mostly to the upper middle-class families and those elderly citizens, who have some form of financial strength such as pensions.
Those who cannot afford such care are literally left to fend for themselves, and this leaves them exposed to all forms of abuse: dishonest family, neighbors and ‘friends stealing their money; facing starvation because of scarce or absent financial resources; dilapidated and unsanitary living conditions; exploitation because of mental health challenges and physical abuse. Some professional groups such as lawyers are also frequently accused of exploiting our elderly.
Against this background and the concomitant changes within our regional societies, our elderly, especially those of the lower economic groups, present a considerable challenge to regional governments.
The Mahogany Coconut Group encourages regional governments to continue their efforts to ensure that our most vulnerable elderly citizens can live out their golden years in a manner that befits the gallant contribution they have made to our region, free from all forms of abuse. Should we fail, the blood of our elderly will be on our hands and retribution for this dereliction of duty will be swift and severe.
The Mahogany Coconut Group thanks our elderly citizens for their contribution to the development of our island states. They were and are the winds beneath our wings.