EDITORIAL – All honour and all glory be to our elderly
OUTSIDE?OF?OUR?KINDERGARTENERS, the elderly – our pensioners – are the most vulnerable in our society today.
It would be understandable and reasonable to expect that their vulnerability would relate to their natural weakening by ageing, their slowing down by the diminishing of their agility; their frequent loss of focus by their increasing inability to recall clearly and analyze promptly.
Only if this was just the case. Sadly, the vulnerability of our elderly is more and more manifest in the subjection to discrimination, neglect, ill-treatment and abuse – in the hospitals, care homes, and in the very homes the old have built and own. In the very places that the aged should be looked after with love, respect and dignity, every now and then the hand of malevolence would raise itself high – sometimes with impunity.
Thank God, most of our hospital and home caregivers live up to their reputation across the Caribbean and beyond. But any small number of delinquents and the irresponsible in the care of our elderly – sick or otherwise – is far too many.
All over the world there is the continuing cry from the ageing of being disregarded and ill-treated. Even in Britain, noted for reasonably good health care, a study on human rights warned that many elderly people were facing such maltreatment and physical neglect, that many were left lying in their own faeces or urine in public and private places of care.
Others, the study revealed, suffered continual malnutrition and dehydration because of a lack of help with and encouragement in eating.
It seems that in Barbados the lack of dignity (especially in the case of personal care needs), inappropriate medication (more to tranquilize the elderly than to treat them) are an unworthy practice at home, bringing unnecessary discomfort to our ageing. Worse yet, it is not unknown for many of our older folk to be surreptitiously deposited at our Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
We are yet to strengthen our laws to deal with these abusers of our elderly and their human rights.
As bad, or worse, we have the stronger, or less ailing, among the elderly being exploited and actually robbed by their unscrupulous relatives of their pension cheques. And hardly anything happens to these criminally-minded kin as their forebears suffer in silence and pain.
While there has been some recent talk by the powers that be on a security policy for the old, the rhetoric is yet to be translated into any semblance of reality.
We simply pay lip service to honouring our elderly fathers and mothers that our days might be long in the land which the Lord our God has given us!