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New projects to improve elderly wellbeing in Barbados

The Ministry of Elder Affairs and People Empowerment will be taking a more holistic approach to caring and providing safe spaces for the elderly, including providing more activities for them, Minister Kirk Humphrey has said.

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He disclosed on Friday that his Ministry is in the process of working with its telecommunications partners to finalise a programme called Elderly Net, that will allow senior citizens to interact with each other online.

Humphrey also promised that in the coming months, he would be announcing other programmes, designed with partners, specifically for the aging population, persons 60 years and older.

He made the disclosures following a tour of the Soroptimist Village for Seniors in Eden Lodge, St Michael, which formed part of a process of identifying gaps and possible solutions while building stronger ties with stakeholders. It was the third such tour, the others being at the Barbados Council for the Disabled and the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness.

“It is an increase in activity, increase in friendliness, the capacity to use the knowledge the older people have to be able to build out our programming, and to be able to work with persons who are in the field who have been doing it for so long to help us also build out our programming.”

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Humphrey told reporters it was his intention, before leaving office, to have more facilities similar to that of the government-run Vauxhall Senior Citizens Village and the Soroptimist Village for Seniors built to allow more active aging.

The Hildegarde Weekes Activity Centre at the Soroptimist Village for Seniors is a space for the elderly to be entertained and engage in various activities three days a week, including dancing, exercising, art and craft. They also go on tours.

“They form friendships from coming together and engaging in these activities. It is important for the elderly to be engaged with their peers. It helps them in terms of their aging and they remain active,” said Ramona Smart, President of Soroptimist International Barbados.

Meantime, Humphrey reiterated his concern about elderly abuse and a break from tradition in how the elderly used to be cared for by individuals, the church, and communities.

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“I feel that cases of elderly abuse have to be prosecuted a lot more sternly than we do. I feel when these things happen we have to make it known to the public. We also have to engage in a stronger [public relations] programme so people understand what elderly abuse is,” he said.

New projects in the works for senior citizens  Barbados Today

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