Five years ago a study by the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre found that, in Jamaica, the elderly constituted 11.3 per cent of the population… and that number was projected to rise to 25 per cent by 2050.
This therefore is an extremely important segment of the Jamaican population; deserving of the greatest possible attention from the Government and people, not only for the fact that they nurtured the current generations of Jamaicans. The true quality of life in our country can be measured by how we treat our senior citizens.
From this standpoint, we encourage all Jamaicans to take seriously the words of Police Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, the head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), who expressed deep concern about increasing attacks on Jamaica’s elderly, the majority of whom are women.
As reported in our Wednesday edition, Supt Lindsay brought a solemn message to the Monday’s Annual General Meeting of Jean Lowrie-Chin’s Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) about the litany of problems faced by senior citizens.
According to Ms Lindsay, these problems include:
• People posing as representatives of utility companies to get to senior citizens
• Identity theft is a growing problem for seniors
• Lonely seniors are robbed of social interaction because of fear of venturing outside
• Many are being abused by caregivers
In addition to the observations made by the officer, anecdotal evidence suggests that there is general impatience and apathy towards the aged, with many people regarding them as a burden or an obstacle in their way, because they might be slowing down physically and mentally.
The creatures who prey on poor, helpless old people are monsters who must feel the full weight of the law. Jamaicans must not keep silent when they witness the ill-treatment of seniors. Enlightened self-interest alone should help us to grasp the fact that if we live long enough we will be seniors one day.
The number of seniors in Jamaica — which as the survey says is increasing — is significant enough for vote-seeking politicians to be interested. We wholeheartedly endorse Mrs Lowrie-Chin’s call for legislation similar to the Child Care and Protection Act to ensure the well-being of Jamaica’s elderly.
In the meantime, we suggest to the elderly that they heed the advice given by Supt Lindsay to protect themselves as much as they can against the criminal minded by:
• Not giving out banking or credit card information on the phone
• Checking ID cards of people claiming to be representatives of utility companies – “In this case, to be rude is to be shrewd!”
• Checking bank statements carefully and immediately reporting any strange activity or suspicion of fraud
• Keeping a close check on incapacitated elderly against abusive caregivers
• In the event of motor vehicle accidents, meeting the other motorist at the police station
• Going out with friends and family, instead of venturing out alone
• Carrying only cash, credit cards and IDs that will be needed
• In the case of a hold-up, throwing wallet or handbag a distance away and running in the opposite direction, but never to resist giving up valuables.
• Using sturdy metal or solid wood doors with deadbolt locks; motion detectors or floodlights; trimming shrubbery around doors and windows and giving an extra key to a trusted neighbour.