September 28, 2023

The Editor speaks: Older persons

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One of the Older Persons

Today, as I write this (Tue October 1), it is International Day of Older Persons.

Here, in Cayman, we have a whole month of activities that started today with a Tea Party at Pedro St. James. My wife is currently there taking tea with who knows. However, she knows almost all Caymanians still living, so she won’t be lonely there. She did show her disappointment when I announced I could not be there with her.

She was not happy! In fact, to show just how unhappy she was, she was able to conjure some loud claps of thunder from the Heavens as she climbed into her car – ALONE. If you heard them, it was me they were aimed at!

The government have put together a lot of activities and the people at The Ministry of Community Affairs’ Department of Children and Family Services, who have hosted this year’s Older Persons Month, must be commended.

I cannot say the same for the document government put out a few years ago on how the elderly SHOULD be treated. It is lengthy and it took months to prepare. It is also a totally useless piece of work with the word SHOULD everywhere. The word MUST appears hardly at all.

All elderly people SHOULD be treated with dignity. What if we aren’t?

Elderly people here get almost nothing in monetary discounts, The cinema is one of the few places that the elderly can get a few dollars off the price of admission if they go in the afternoon. A chocolate bar, drinks, etc, they still have to pay the full exorbitant prices.

At banks there is a special counter for the elderly that is usually unmanned. The elderly person is expected to run in front of everybody else waiting in line when a teller becomes available.

At nearly all government buildings the elderly have to wait in line just like everyone else.

The aforementioned government document has no teeth to bite when the SHOULD is not put in place.

When I was in Scotland I got free bus and train fares. In England you receive a train pass that gives you discounts on the fares.

I leave you with the United Nations PR on this International Day of Older Persons. If our Government Minister sent one out I didn’t receive it!

From the United Nations:

Between 2017 and 2030, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 46 per cent (from 962 million to 1.4 billion) globally outnumbering youth, as well as children under the age of 10. Moreover, this increase will be the greatest and most rapid in the developing world (A/RES/73/143). Population aging is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

Older people have always played a significant role in society as leaders, caretakers and custodians of tradition. Yet they are also highly vulnerable, with many falling into poverty, becoming disabled or facing discrimination. As health care improves, the population of older people is growing. Their needs are also growing, as are their contributions to the world.

The International Day of Older Persons is an opportunity to highlight the important contributions that older people make to society and raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges of aging in today’s world.

2019 Theme: “The Journey to Age Equality”

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages. Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.

The 2019 theme is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG 10) and focuses on pathways of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities. SDG 10 sets to reduce inequality within — and among — countries, and aims to “ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome,” including through measures to eliminate discrimination, and to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.”

Often, disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage characterized by factors such as: location, gender, socio‐economic status, health and income. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 901 million to 1.4 billion. In this regard, trends of ageing and economic inequality interact across generations and rapid population ageing, demographic and societal or structural changes alone, can exacerbate older age inequalities, thereby limiting economic growth and social cohesion.

The 2019 theme aims to:

  • Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life, and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequalities.
  • Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities.
  • Explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
  • Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving “old age.”

Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.


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