NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — The Bahamas Government says an increasing number of old people are being forced to seek State assistance because they are being neglected, abused, abandoned and ostracised by their families.
“We are all aware of the deterioration of the extended family — coupled with the impacts from the recession — and the effect this has, and has had, on older persons [but] families owe it to their older members to ensure that they are properly provided for and given the respect they deserve,” Social Services and Community Development Minister Melanie Griffin has said.
“We must endeavour to ensure that older persons throughout our country are engaged, empowered and provided for.”
Addressing the annual church service to launch the observance of Older Persons Month in The Bahamas, Griffin told senior citizens they can be confident in the Government’s resolve to ensure that they will remain full and active participants in the country they helped to build.
She said Government would continue to provide, and where necessary ensure, that services are in place to assist the country’s elderly.
“Ageing, like other stages of life, has its challenges and rewards. We have an obligation, however, to ensure that the challenges are not too difficult for our older persons to bear and that support is provided where and when necessary.
“Let us, therefore, demonstrate to older persons throughout The Bahamas that we value them as important components of our society and want to engage their continued contributions as participating members,” Griffin added.
Griffin said the 2010 Census Report indicates that during the period 2000-2010, the population of persons 65 years and older grew from 15,777 to 21,629. Figures also show that the number of people over the age of 60 in 2030 will be more than 13 per cent of the total population.
“Considering this inevitable shift in the age demographics, both locally and globally, The Bahamas must pay attention to this cohort of persons as it is the responsibility of governments to foster the creation of societies where all ages can fully participate and make vital contributions,” Griffin said.
“Governments are therefore being encouraged to ensure that the needs of citizens of all ages are taken into consideration when planning for sustainable development. Older persons in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will be fully integrated into the overall plan for national development as we promote a society for all,” Griffin added.