Older relatives neglected

| 02/10/2008

(CNS): Some families are neglecting their responsibilities in caring for older relatives and are relying on government to do the caring for them, according to Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Director, Deanna Look Loy. She said increasing numbers of families are opting for institutional care for elderly relatives and government is committing vast sums for this purpose annually, to operate five residential care facilities.

Several indigent elderly also receive poor relief on a monthly basis. During Older Persons Month, which has the theme UN Principles for Older Persons – Independence; Participation; Care; Self-fulfillment and Dignity, Look Loy is urging residents to become more involved in the care of elderly relatives.

Commending those citizens who do spend time and money on caring for elderlyrelatives, she said, “Government takes pride in caring for our older citizens, but it is always better for them to remain with family. When they are institutionalised, many elderly persons feel hurt and rejected, especially when family connections are diminished by infrequent visits.” She added that older persons often feel shamed by having to rely on government for their survival.

“Family members who can afford it ought to take great pleasure in caring for their parents and other elderly relatives who made tremendous sacrifices to care for them as children and young persons,” Look Loy said, noting that the institutional approach to elderly care is not typical of Caymanian society, and said that it signified a breakdown in society’s value systems.

“In the Caribbean we have been raised on the concept of the village raising children and looking after our elderly—but this is changing” she said, and explained that the elderly do have recourse and can take their relatives, to court under the Maintenance Law. “However, many older persons refuse to take this action because it is not acceptable in the Caymanian culture.

Although several NGOs and individuals have encouraged a change in the law so that the DCFS would have the responsibility of taking family members to court on behalf of the elderly, Look Loy added: “This is not the kind of social work we wish to practice. Rather our aim is to enable and empower the most vulnerable in the society and to work in a spirit of co-operation with families.” She pointed to other areas where older persons could gain visibility: “Continue to exert your independence through community participation and by maintaining relationships with family, friends and the church,” she advised. “Stay involved by interacting with other social groups and that will make you feel that you are still wanted and loved and that you are continuing to make a contribution to the society,” she said.

Several activities are being held across Cayman in observance of Older Persons Month. These include a Wellness Fair Wednesday morning, district tea parties, and other social events. Various businesses will also offer discounts to the elderly during October.

· The Governor’s Tea Party – Friday, 3 October
Government House
4 pm – 5:30 pm

· Churches urged to honour the Sunday, 5 October
Elderly in their congregations

· Seniors Annual Retreat – Friday,10 – Monday,13 October 2008
Cayman Brac

· Seniors Bash – Thursday, 30 October
Seafarers Association
7:00p.m. to 10:00p.m

District Tea Parties

· West Bay Thursday, 9 October
John Gray Memorial Hall
10a.m. – 1p.m.

· Bodden Town Wednesday, 15 October
The Bodden Town Civic Centre
3 – 6p.m.

· George Town Wednesday, 22 October
The Family Life Centre
10a.m. – 1p.m.

· East End Tuesday, 21 October
The East End Civic Centre
10a.m. – 1p.m.

· North Side Saturday, 25 October
North Side Civic Centre
5p.m. – 7p.m.


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