BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday July 26, 2016 – The elderly population in Barbados is growing at a faster pace than any other age group.
In fact, says Minister of Social Care Steven Blackett, it’s projected that in another nine years, they’ll make up 20.4 per cent of the population.
The problem is, he says, is that it will bring with it several socio-economic issues.
Speaking at the opening of a National Societal Consultation yesterday, Blackett explained that the number of persons aged 60 and over was growing at an accelerated rate in comparison with other age groups, and presented issues which could not be ignored at the individual, family, organizational and 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 said.
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 admitted has been receiving publicity and generating “strident public response”.
However, Blackett pointed out that the National Policy on Ageing, which was passed in Parliament in 2013, examined the status of older persons, and would, over the next 10 years, aim to remove existing barriers that might hinder the participation of older persons in mainstream society.
A special committee has been established and mandated to monitor the implementation of the policy based on the recommendations contained within the document.
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.