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Dec 29, 2015

HelpAge Executive Director Says Elderly Person Must Be Protected

According to Bulwer, only a small percentage of the elderly population in Belize currently receives direct support services from organizations such as HelpAge; the others, in most cases, have been left neglected. Bulwer asserts that violence against older persons is underreported and there is need for government to put in place policies to protect this vulnerable population.

 

Ivorine Bulwer

Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director, HelpAge Belize

“We as HelpAge and other organizations involved in older persons, we have got to look at creating, promoting, to look at support services that are in place to provide assistance to the challenges experienced by our older persons and advocate for change in the laws. One we’ve got to look at adopting…in June of this year, the O.A.S. launched the Convention on protecting the Rights of Older Persons. We have got to lobby for our government to adopt that convention because it certainly will address issues pertaining to older persons’ safety. Promoting independence is critical, but you touched a point there that yes we see neglect of older persons. HelpAge, we are only providing direct support to five percent of our older person population, which is almost twenty-three thousand and we are only serving five percent of that population. And what we are seeing, it’s not really good. Hence we are tasked to agitate, to advocate for those other ninety-five percent of persons. What we are seeing is not a good picture. Violence against older persons certainly is underreported. Many older persons may not want to say anything, but the clientele we serve, quite a number of them are well looked after. We see incidences where we have to work closely with the social worker and we recognize that older persons may not want to say anything because the abuse may take different forms. But abuse certainly is underreported and one of the important things is that we need to provide information and education on what really is abuse. Physical abuse, financial abuse, social abuse…and we need to look at the issue of access too. We need to create that level of awareness with our young people; that they need to plan for the future. We need to work with family members; we need to work with the community; we need to work with the relevant government authorities, because there are some indigents that must be cared for.”

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