In Senior Citizens month, the Anglican Church, through its Commissions on Advocacy and Social Justice and Family Life join with other organisations and persons interested in the welfare of the elderly to salute our senior citizens for the outstanding contribution they have made to the development of our society. At the same time the Commissions wish to thank successive Ministers with responsibility for the elderly and their staffs for their effort to promote the wellbeing of these gems of Barbados. The Government Geriatric Hospitals, the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), private facilities specialising in care of the elderly and other caregivers also deserve our appreciation.
Unfortunately, the Commissions find it necessary, at this time, to issue a reminder that abuse of our senior citizens is totally unacceptable. Abuse of any kind is offensive to God who made all human beings in His own image, thereby endowing them with inherent worth and dignity. For this reason, elderly people are entitled to an environment in which they can remain active citizens for as long as possible, and receive the care and attention of family members, friends and all of us. We abhor the neglect and ill-treatment which some elderly persons are forced to endure, and renew the call for us to respect their humanity and the God image in them.
Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality in a society in which people have become too busy to care and have very little patience with those considered to be past their productive years. Our elders represent sources of knowledge and wisdom which we would do well to cherish. Also, many of them possess skills which can be utilised for the betterment of our country.
We urge Barbadians to keep their elderly relatives at home for as long as possible, resorting to institutional care only when better cannot be done. What we must not do is abandon them. The aged must be viewed as an important resource and asset, rather than burdens in our communities. This is a good time for us to pledge to do all we can to make aging a pleasant experience.
Given the special needs of the elderly, especially relating to health, we must, at all times, ensure that pensions and other subsidies provided for this special group are adequate. That is why we wish to thank the government for increasing the pension of both the contributory and non-contributory pensioners.
We take this opportunity to renew the Social Justice and Family Life Commissions’ appeal to churches and other organisations in civil society to make provision for centres where elderly persons can go during the day to engage in wholesome activity. This would greatly assist relatives, caring for their elderly folk, to feel comfortable that their loved ones are in a safe environment and are usefully occupied while they go off to work. Working relatives can take their aged family members to the centres in the morning and collect them in the evening Monday to Friday. Such facilities would have the added benefit of reducing the opportunities for unscrupulous persons to prey on the vulnerabilities of the older folk. In this connection, we would like to applaud the efforts of the St. Barnabas Anglican Church and any other churches which engage in this important work.
May our Triune God help us to accept our duty to love and care for our Senior citizens.
John Goddard, chairman of the Anglican Commission on Advocacy and Social Justice & George Griffith, Chairman, Family Commission