Barbados has a high incidence of elder abuse and neglect and citizens must do more to reverse the trend, Social Care Minister Steve Blackett has urged.
Addressing a church service this morning to mark the beginning of activities leading up to ‘World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day’, on June 15, Blackett told the congregation at the Church of the Nazarene, Bank Hall, that this island could not ignore the problem since it leads the Caribbean with the highest population of older people.
“Almost on a daily basis, it is common for the social services agencies in Barbados, especially the National Assistance Board, to receive reports of older adults who are being ill-treated; improper use of older persons’ finances; poor quality of care; and sometimes abandonment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” he said to an audience that included staff members and directors of the Government’s social care departments.
Pointing out that “the average life expectancy in Barbados is 77″ and more than 10 per cent of the population has been classified as elderly, Blackett raised concern that “several older persons are living alone and are becoming more vulnerable, and dependent on community support systems”.
He stressed it was therefore critical for “individuals, organizations and communities to become involved in the process of heightening awareness about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation”.
The minister suggested that proper care of the elderly could be achieved with support and recommendations from the church, the family, legal and judicial systems, members of civil society, corporate Barbados, non-governmental organizations and the media.
He urged Barbadians to “continue to love, respect and protect the elderly; embrace and cherish them rather than abandon them in their time of need, especially in their advancing years”.