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Cayman Islands Minister’s Message – International Day of Older Persons

hon-osbourne-v-bodden-mlaSaturday, 1 October International Day of Older Persons 

Minister for Community Affairs, Youth & Sports Hon. Osbourne Bodden, JP Message – International Day of Older Persons 1st October 2016

The elderly are the nation’s conscience. They, more than any other part of the community, give us a sense of cultural continuity and self. How appropriate then for us to mark their sterling nation-building efforts by honouring them during International Day of Older Persons.

Those 60 and older have undoubtedly lived through the greatest era of change in our society. Their generation had to adapt the most rapidly to the advent of the modern world, which transformed the lives, livelihoods and physical environment of our island nation.

History shows that today’s senior citizen embraced this change and altered the course of the Cayman Islands forever. For this and all the many sacrifices they have made over the years, we give thanks.

The latest population statistics show that there are now 3,639 senior citizens, aged 65 and older in the Cayman Islands. Approximately 5,847 are between the ages of 55 and 64. These demographics follow an overall global trend of a growth in the elderly population. People are living longer mainly due to better healthcare, and living more of their lives in better health than before.

All of this has important implications for policymakers. The challenge is not only to maintain that trend of improvement but to spread these benefits to all our elderly regardless of gender, ethnicity or location.

The theme of International Day of Older Persons and local Older Persons Month invites us all to “Take a Stand Against Ageism”. For older people, ageism is an everyday reality. Often overlooked for employment and stereotyped in the media, ageism marginalises and excludes older people in their communities, at a time in their lives when comfort and ease should be paramount.
The Government is aware of just how prevalent ageism is and that such discrimination harms rather than helps society. My Ministry is dedicated to ensuring that older persons live with dignity, are respected and have the opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of our society. We are focused on expanding our efforts to provide strategic guidance in the delivery of quality services for older persons.

To this end, therefore, my Ministry has established a Steering Committee which is currently developing a national policy for older persons which will go far to not only support this Government’s efforts to protect the rights of older persons, but also ensure that they can contribute fully to our families and communities for many years to come.

It is anticipated that the draft Policy will be finalised by the end of this month and, following this, we plan to roll-out a series of meetings and press briefings to inform the public of the policy’s findings and recommendations. In the meantime, I encourage you to support the month-long activities that have been planned for our older persons.

This Government is dedicated to exploring ways in which the country can extend and improve the quality of life for our older persons while protecting them against the impact of ageism. Rather than marginalising and excluding older people, let’s work together to ensure that they all live a dignified life.


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