Barbados’ elderly population is growing at a faster pace then any other age group, presenting the authorities with a number of socio-economic challenges, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett said Monday.
Blackett announced this morning that by 2025, 20.4 per cent of the country’s population would consist of people over the age of 60.
Speaking at the opening of a national consultation on the society at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, he said this presented issues which could not be ignored at the individual, family, organizational or societal level.
“Population ageing is occurring in the context of a challenging economic climate, changing family structures, and the growing burden of chronic non-communicable diseases and their attendant complications . . . . The social environment can create a setting which increases the vulnerability of older persons and undermine social protection for this population,” he stated.
The minster added that the elderly had weak social linkages and were socially excluded and isolated, which increased their susceptibility to elder abuse, an issue he said has been receiving publicity and generating “strident public response”.
Blackett pointed to the National Policy on Ageing, which was passed in Parliament in 2013, reminding the audience that its aim over the next ten years was to remove existing barriers that might hinder the participation of older persons in mainstream society.
He revealed that a special committee had been formed to monitor its implementation
“Crucial issues identified include elder abuse, poor inter-generational relations, and social exclusion in areas of health, finance and housing and gaps and shortcomings in the legislation,” he said.
The minister also discussed the prevalence of domestic abuse in Barbados, referring to a survey commissioned by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), through the Bureau of Gender Affairs in 2008, which revealed that 27 per cent of Barbadian homes had experienced some form of domestic violence.
Blackett also made reference to the Partnership for Peace initiative of his ministry and the United Nations Development Fund – a violence intervention programme launched in 2014, geared toward a reduction in the incidence of domestic violence.
The programme, which is administered in conjunction with the court, targets psychosocial behavioural change in men who have been found guilty of domestic violence.
Blackett said eight cycles of the programme had been completed, and had been proving to be “a useful tool for the maintenance of family life and family relations, and for society as a whole”.