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LETTER OF THE DAY - It takes a village to save the elderly

Published:Friday | September 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: The media portrayed a dehumanising scene at the Kingston Public Hospital of an elderly lady lying in her faeces for a prolonged period. She was in desperate need of care to restore her dignity, the provision of food, and for long-term intervention.

She is not unique in her helpless situation, as other communities have older adults who live in deplorable conditions. Some elderly persons suffer from Alzheimer's disease, which affects their ability to care for themselves, while others bear the burden of the complications of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

being our brother's keeper

The 'village approach' - being our brother's keeper - is needed to ensure that our elders, who have contributed to nation building, do not die from lack of love and attention. The efforts of caregivers, poor relief officers, and other groups who support our older adults have not gone unnoticed.

However, each community ought to know who their elderly citizens are and where they reside. The status of their livelihood is relevant, as this will determine the need for food, protection and other commodities.

When elders are seen wandering the streets, especially those who are unkempt, their home location should be ascertained, if possible. The church community can play a key role in assisting its incapacitated or shut-in members and others in need.

The village approach should seek to involve our elders in activities such as sports, culinary arts, and art and craft. It might be necessary for older adults who have a tendency to wander to wear an identification bracelet with their name, address, and illnesses.

HEATHER F. FLETCHER

hfletcher@ncu.edu.jm

Mandeville, Manchester