President of the Dominica Council On Ageing Zetma Toussaint has called for the inclusiveness of older people in the country’s planning process.
She made the remarks on Monday at the start of the 3rd two-day Caribbean Conference On Ageing, Elder Abuse And The Rights Of Older Persons now taking place in Dominica under the theme: Building the Framework for a Regional Response to Elder Abuse.
She said during the two days the conference is taking place, participants will experience the warm hospitality and the vibrant culture of Dominicans, whilst at the same time focusing on an important sector of the population: the ageing and the aged.
“Ageing as we know is inevitable and, therefore, must be considered as a process of humanity and it is for this reason that in a nation’s planning process, one must ensure that the older persons are catered for and that no one is left behind,” she said. “Because in the next 15 years, which is by 2030, the population of older persons above 60 years, worldwide will peak to 1.4-billion, according to the statistics we have been given.”
Toussaint noted that in the Caribbean, the proportion of older persons is about 9.9 percent of the total population and Dominica falls within that same ratio, hence “we must be mindful of the place of older persons in tomorrow’s world.”
“Whether these older persons are looked upon as a burden, or a challenge to us or are part of the process of advancement, depends on how we treat them, sustain and include them in the nation’s policy formulation and deliberations,” she said. “Today we are experiencing a paradigm shift in the way we regard old age and the elderly.”
The President of the DCOA added ageing is no longer regarded as a decline in functions and social roles.
“Ageing is thus a lifelong phenomenon and what we should aim for is healthy ageing,” she noted. “These concepts must be incorporated into our discussion on ageing as we move forward in shaping the future for the elderly.”
The President argued that older persons contribute to the economy and the family in substantive ways and at any age, one can learn, improve and reshape their lives.
“Here in the Caribbean we must resolve to improve conditions which impacts on the lives of older persons in the region and reduce all forms of abuse and neglect of older persons,” Toussaint pointed out, adding that it is their hope as they deliberate on the various issues confronting older persons, they will be able to present recommendations which will help shape policies and programs in the region which will improve the social and economic wellbeing of older persons.