November 19, 2019

The Editor Speaks: Old but not disabled

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colin-wilsonweb2I have now had time to peruse and digest the 65 page Cayman Islands Older Persons Policy 2016-2035 and whilst applauding the authors it actually has as many teeth as my late mother had when she took them out at night and placed them in a cup of water.

There is plenty of vision but little actual legislation.

The word “should” is written frequently in the document whilst the word “must” doesn’t appear.

There are eight local legislation and references and seven “Other International legislation and reports” that would appear to be somewhere in the aforesaid document. For guidance only I suspect.

The document also makes a bold statement that the “Specific benefits of the Policy” “WILL increase awareness of older persons’ needs and bring their concerns to the forefront for action in any national strategic development for the Cayman Islands”.

Really? Do the writers actually believe that?

We even have the word “expected” used in front of the word “legislation”.

The document admits, “currently there are no policies or statutes which explicitly address the rights of older persons”.

There is no budget for older persons so the words “encourage” and “educate” is banded about all over the document.

It was unfortunate, just after the publication of this document that a number of government events planned and announced for the elderly were cancelled and not because of the weather (although that was tried to be used) but due to other conflicts not specified. Note: cancelled not postponed.

Here in the Cayman Islands persons with disabilities are catered for (rightly so) far more than elderly persons. And when you can state how poorly THEY are actually catered for you can see clearly the non existent legislation in place for elderly persons. This document will not change it at all – well not this year – 2035? Maybe. That gives the legislators plenty of time to put any recommendations made in the document off – twenty years!

In the UK the majority of the various districts, towns, do make an effort to give discounts to elderly persons, especially when it comes to travel. In Scotland, elderly persons can travel on the buses FREE when you reach 60. You can also apply for a special parking badge that allows anyone over the age of 70 and can still drive (after taking another driving test and submitting a doctor’s report that you are fit to drive) to park in the disabled designated blue spots. This policy is being introduced in . And rail travel and bus travel in gets elderly persons well discounted fares.

Free medicine and treatment is a right for the elderly as well and this is part of the service that one had been paying into when you started working. There is no limit on the coverage.

Here in the Cayman Islands, when you reach retirement age the Insurance companies manage to wheedle you out of their health care insurances and you have to PAY into that has ridiculously low limits of the amount of coverage. It only covers 80% of the medical costs anyway, unless you are a government employee.

All of the health and public transport recommendations in the document could and should be legislated NOW to put the so called rights for Aged Persons RIGHT! Words are cheap, sound good but are worthless without action.

I will give you two examples that have affected my 82 YEAR OLD wife, Joan.

Joan has skin cancer and has had two expensive operations to remove fast growing life threatening cancer spots. The first CINICO covered 80% but she had to pay UP FRONT the 20% she had to cover before the operation could take place at the hospital. Later this year she got into a car accident that knocked her off the road and down into a car park 6ft below the road. The car that hit her was not insured nor did it have a licence. CINICO paid 80% of the medical expenses she incurred that included a five day stay in hospital. Before she could leave the hospital the 20% owing was demanded in full.

Three times the police wanted to come to our house, where she was recuperating from a broken thoracic vertebra from the accident and arrest this 82 year old woman because she had failed to appear before the magistrate to pay for an obstruction ticket I had incurred and been told had been dropped. One of the calls that I took was from an officer who was both rude and sarcastic. She would have to go to a doctor and confirm she wasn’t fit to appear. I won’t repeat what I told him to do.

Then, after recovering from the accident, the skin cancer was back and another emergency operation. The first one had been on her face but this one was on her leg. The cancer had travelled to various parts of her body. This time CINICO will not pay one cent because they said Joan has reached her limit. They will not pay anything anymore no matter what it is. They decide if it is an emergency. Not the doctor.

Now we move on to last Friday. Joan had to go for a blood test that she had to pay 100% for and return for another one on Saturday. Because I had an appointment she had to drive herself to the hospital. Being Friday, the car park was full and the only place available in the whole car park was three spaces reserved for . Those who know Joan can vouch how unsteady she is and slow on her feet. She is still recovering from the operation her leg.

This 82 year old woman broke the law and parked in a Disabled Persons place because there was no way she would have been able to walk into the hospital if she had parked on the road outside! A police car with an officer in it was waiting to pounce!

When she returned fifteen minutes later the other two disabled reserved spots were still vacated but she had a ticket stuck on the side window of her car.

She walked back into the hospital to see someone about it there and to explain the problem. To no avail. She was told it was now a police matter and she had to pay it at the court in George Town. She walked back to the car and drove to the courts. She went to the first court building and was told she had to pay it across the road at the other court building and then come back with the receipt and give it to them. She did, to be told there was an unpaid ticket I had incurred for obstruction!!! She did not pay that one. Both the police and a court official had informed me it had been dropped. Obviously it hasn’t.

Back to the courts.Tell me folks have you ever heard such nonsense? You pay in one building and then have to go to another building that is across the road with the receipt!

All this to a woman who is 82 years of age because she broke a law that doesn’t include elderly persons!!

I am only using this to illustrate how elderly persons are treated by police officers, hospital officials and judiciary officials. Not because Joan is my wife. I am sure there are many elderly persons with similar tales of woe.

It is APPALLING!

And I hope Minister Osbourne Bodden is reading this along with the hospital administrator, CINICO, the judiciary and all police officers.

Because elderly persons are disabled and discriminated against and have no rights whatsoever. I feel like John the Baptist. A voice crying in the wilderness. But people did listen to him especially after he was dead. Even when elderly persons die nothing changes here.

And I am afraid this 65 page Cayman Islands Older Persons Policy 2016-2035 document isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference.

We are old and the government officials make us feel disabled. We are not. Respect us. We paid our dues. So will you, too. believe me you will unless you make it to 2035 and that I won’t.

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