Yesterday’s unnerving pictures of an emaciated 76-year-old Harriet Codrington being removed from her Massiah Street, St John home into the care of local authorities, should stand as a warning to us all – our elderly are precious and we have a duty to protect them at all cost.
Images like those have no place among us. They are nothing more than shameful reminders of an ill that must be urgently remedied.
The outcry from our readers was loud and rightly so. Not only did most express disgust at the obvious lack of care meted out to the senior, but they called for punitive action against those responsible and for authorities to do more to protect the nation’s elders.
It is said that a society is judged by the way it manages to care for its vulnerable members – children and the elderly.
Sadly, we have been found wanting. Whether we want to admit it or not, neglect, abandonment and abuse of the elderly are real issues in our country – unfortunately and unnecessarily so.
It is far too commonplace to hear appalling stories of our seniors receiving poor treatment at the hands of caregivers and relatives, who sometimes abandon them at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or leave them forgotten at the Geriatric Hospital or private nursing homes.
The fact remains; it is not just an indictment on the offenders, who should face the strong arm of the law, but on all of us as a society.
Our senior citizens have worked hard all their lives and have contributed to our development immeasurably. Their golden years should be just that – golden. They don’t deserve to be abused in any way, shape or form. But far too many of us classify the elderly as simply that- elderly- without a second thought about their achievements and the contributions they have made.
We aver it’s time for an about-turn in our attitudes particularly when one takes into consideration that our population is an aging one.
According to the National Committee on Ageing there were 114 centenarians alive and well in Barbados up to May 5 this year. An additional 38 females and ten males are expected to reach the 100-year milestone by the end of this year.
Clearly, our elderly should not be disregarded but celebrated.
Against this backdrop we can’t help but praise the National Assistance Board for its prompt and decisive action on this case.
NAB Chairman Dr David Durant and his team demonstrated that they were indeed paying attention to Ms Codrington’s plight and were therefore able to move in a timely fashion to rescue her from the unacceptable circumstances.
We earnestly hope that the senior’s relocation to the Government-run Geriatric Hospital would result in significant improvements to her well-being.
May this incident reinvigorate staff to be relentless in their efforts to safeguard the interests of the elderly.
But even more than Senator Durant and the NAB team, we applaud those concerned neighbours who brought the issue to the attention of the authorities by taking to social media to highlight their concerns about the situation.
Oh that more neighbours would recognize they are indeed their brother’s keeper and reach out to assist the helpless.
It is simply not enough for us to turn a blind eye, sweep under the carpet, or merely gossip about glaring situations where authorities need to intervene. It is our duty, once we have reasonable facts, to inform those who can correct the problems to ensure that no one suffers in silence.
Relatives, friends, responsible acquaintances, and observant neighbours must make sure that the care and treatment of the elderly maintain their comfort and health. Our elderly must be cherished.