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Oct 1, 2014

International Day for Older Persons Celebrated in Belize

Across the globe, senior citizens took prominence today. October first is celebrated as International Day of Older Persons. Locally, HelpAge Belize has organized a series of activities to highlight the challenges faced by older persons. Duane Moody reports from Sister Cecilia Home in Belize City.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

October first is recognized annually as International Day of Older Persons and since last week, HelpAge Belize, in collaboration with several corporate citizens, has been doing activities to celebrate the life of senior citizens.  The activities are being held under the theme: “Leaving No One Behind: Promoting A Society For All.”

 

Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director, HelpAge Belize

Ivorine Bulwer

“Yes it is a day for older persons, but it is important to integrate our younger persons who are going to get older. We want to say to our younger persons that promotion of wellness starts at a young age because it affects your life in later years.  Throughout our eleven branches throughout the country, we are doing numerous activities for older persons. We are recognizing their contributions. At the same time, we are accessing the needs of older persons. In Dangriga, they selected Miss HelpAge. Punta Gorda, Seine Bight and Hopkins, they are collectively celebrating Older Persons Day together; they are having a big parade in Punta Gorda. And throughout our branches, we have activities with our younger persons and we have community really involved in celebrating Older Persons Week.”

 

Today, at the Sister Cecilia Home on Wilson Street, hundreds of seenagers—men and women—gathered for a day of pampering…fit for kings and queens. One queen, Former Miss Y 1995, is eighty-nine-year-old Leotine Gillettt. She says every year, she attends to get her pedicure, manicure and massage as a treat for herself.

 

Leotine Gillett

Leotine Gillett, Seenager

“I’m just doing an encore. It feels very good. What happened, I had broken ankles when I was in New York and it was like I could never get it better. So whenever I get a chance to a massage, a foot massage or any foot care, I take advantage of the time.”

 

Duane Moody

“Now we know that you dah lady weh always carry yourself well and you won Miss Y in 1995. Tell us about how you feel and whether you would suggest that other people come out and get this same treatment.”

 

Leotine Gillett

“Really, I’m in my eighty-ninth year and I am proud of being eighty-nine and I would encourage any senior, any senior women or even men to become attached to HelpAge or to the Y-Seniors or to the Senior Club of Leo Bradley….or seniors in any organization because to old is to be wise and you can assist the young to be very wise and understanding and helpful. So that is why I would encourage anyone to be pampered. That’s what you call it….to be pampered.”

 

The week of activities according to Executive Director of HelpAge, Ivorine Bulwer, speaks to the advocacy that the organization has undertaken and reviews the progress made or lack thereof when it comes to society addressing older persons.

 

Ivorine Bulwer

“Quite a number of challenges we have with older persons. One they are living alone, neglected and in unsanitary condition. There are problems going into their homes; their surroundings filthy and filled with bushes. We have quite a number of them who have relatives and honestly they are not given the level of attention they required. You have some of them who go to the clinic and there is no one supporting them and these older persons suffer from numerous conditions. You are talking about the diabetes, the hypertension, the arthritis and different forms of dementia. So when they go to clinic, how can they remember the treatment? How can they remember those instructions? So they certainly need support from family members. And aside from that, it is a message to our younger persons; they need to look at planning for older years.”

 

HelpAge Belize believes that programs and projects that we have implemented to benefit our older persons in Belize must be improved, but has to be done collectively as a society. Duane Moody for News Five.

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