Minister for Social Services, Gender Affairs and Family, Catherine Daniel has said there is rampant elderly abuse in Dominica.
Speaking on the observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Wednesday (June 15), abuse has taken various forms on the island.
“It takes varied forms; emotional, physical, neglect, and financial, the latter two being the more prevalent forms of abuse in Dominica,” she said. “One need only go through various communities around Dominica to discover how rampant this phenomenon is in our midst.”
She said the issue brings into focus some of the programmes provided by the government for the elderly.
“This is brought into sharp focus by government’s ‘Yes we Care’ Programme which provides care for elderly housebound citizens,” she stated.
She explained that some of the clients of the programme have children holding good positions in Dominica and overseas, yet they are neglected and left to the mercy of friends, neighbours and the state.
“This constitutes neglect and therefore is a form of elder abuse,” Daniel remarked.
Additionally, she noted, very often older persons receive remittances and gifts from family members overseas or assistance from the state but they never see it.
She said these monies are collected by family members of caregivers who do not use it for the care and upkeep of the elderly.
“By withholding these monies which are intended for the well-being of the older person, you are in fact being perpetrators of elder abuse,” she pointed out.
Meantime, Daniel said government have implemented a number of programmes to enhance the lives and well-being of the elderly.
“For example, government pays an annual subvention to the Dominica Infirmary and other institutions providing care for the elderly,” she stated. “The Yes We Care Programme, the Public Assistance Programme, the Centenarian Programme and the Non-contributory Social Pension Assistance for nationals 70 years and over are some of the programmes which have been implemented to enhance the life and well-being of the elderly in Dominica.”
She added, “I am pleased to say that all of these, with exception of the latter, are being implemented by my ministry, the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs.”
Daniel cautioned, however, that the comfort and well-being of elder persons cannot be left solely to government.
“In reality, the primary responsibility for the protection and care of elder persons lies with the family,” she noted. “To put it simply, children must take care of their parents, relatives, neighbours.”
Daniel said community members must also take care of the older persons among them, who in their productive years contributed to, “the lives and the development of their communities, and the nation by extension.”
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was celebrated under the theme: “The Rights of Older Persons’.”