Thu | Dec 8, 2016

'Golden oldies' in Gordon House

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

In what one might describe as an unexpected phenomenon, both sides of Gordon House recently unanimously passed legislation aimed at accommodating geriatric members of Parliament. Formally known as the 'Over Sixties' bill and more colloquially referred to as 'You're Never Too Old To Serve', it provides a host of directives and introduces a number of facilities, services, and benefits that will make life easier for the growing number of members of the House who wish to serve their constituencies well into their golden years.

For the purpose of easy identification, qualifying members will be issued with window stickers for their SUVs: blue for 60 to 70, yellow for 71 to 79 and red for the over 80s. Valet parking is to be provided for the over 70s to allow their drivers to assist them to enter Gordon House to take their seats. Incidentally, over 70s, each year, will have to obtain a doctor's certificate attesting to their physical and mental ability to effectively carry out the commitment they have to their constituents, the party to which they belong, and Jamaica. Of course, a doctor and nurse will be on hand whenever the House is in session, and each year, doctors will be required to issue an affidavit confirming the member is alive in order to avoid pension fraud.

As one can surmise, geriatric members' health is of paramount importance. Flu shots will be mandatory as well as annual heart, prostate (men only) and eye tests. Even a free wake-up phone call on mornings when there will be a parliamentary session will be available.

Once inside Gordon House, adequate ramps and railings are to be installed. Members will enjoy the services of a dispensary offering free medication and a variety of devices that are a necessity with the approach of old age.

Men will have a choice of aids for erectile dysfunction and women can obtain vaginal cream to assist with post-menopausal intercourse. As one would expect, there will be a full range of aspirins, antacids, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, anti-snoring tablets and life-enhancing vitamins. There will be stocks of walking sticks, Zimmers, wheelchairs, false teeth, glasses, back scratchers and adult diapers, among other accessories. Pension cheques will be cashed on request.

Another unique feature called for under the law will be a unique senior's lounge with La-Z-Boy recliners, subdued lighting and sonorous music. Alcohol will be restricted to tonic wine. Milo will be served with water crackers. A small television screen is to be installed to carry a continuous loop featuring a discrete over-70s dating service (Jamaican content only).

Before taking their seats for the first time, geriatric members will be issued with a booklet in preparation for their introduction to life in Gordon House. It will include a map of the building showing the location of the toilets and the lounge, advice on writing a will, a sample obituary Gleaner ad, safe exercises for over 70s and suggested publishers for memoirs and tell-alls, plus a list of recommended medical specialists, clinics, hospitals and hospices, as well as funeral homes.

 

incontinence breaks

 

Other special benefits geriatric members are provided for in the new law are scheduled incontinence breaks during debates and an annual Old Folks Day. On this occasion, the House will adjourn while its golden agers visit old people to ascertain their views on issues of the day in order to be better informed when relevant debates take place. Those members who reach 100 while still sitting members are to receive a congratulatory telegram from the governor general as the Queen no longer sends them out in the Commonwealth. It is also significant to note that Mandarin lessons are intended to be available but are optional.

An added fillip to the presentation to the House of the details of the law occurred when Octogenarian Mike Henry, JLP member for Central Clarendon and shadow minister of transport, announced that each year, he would be awarding a gift of his memoirs to the senior member contributing the most to a debate on reparations.

It is interesting to note the similarity of the recognition of old age that this bill represents, inasmuch as the former president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, acknowledged the same. He decreed that 73 to 85 should be defined as the "wisdom life cycle" and 85 to 97 the "old age life cycle". He himself died at 66, which at least was longer than Turkmenistan's average expectancy for men, which is 60. Among his other eccentric and often despotic achievements was officially changing the word for bread to his mother's name in the national vocabulary.

- Anthony Gambrill is a playwright and author. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.