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Oct 5, 2017

A New Way Forward for Older Persons

The International Day of Older Persons is observed annually on the first of October. It is a day to acknowledge, honor and re-commit support to a vulnerable population around the world and here in Belize. In Celebration of International Day of Older Persons, the National Council on Ageing hosted the first National Conference on Ageing and the Rights of Older Persons. The aim is to create pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights.  The conference brought together professionals from different sectors to discuss the rights of older persons, economic security, age-friendly health care and social support highlighting the crucial role of an ageing population in Belize’s development. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has more.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

In 2010 it was estimated that older persons, sixty years and above, made up seven percent of Belize’s population. This number is increasing by well over one thousand each year. And with that growing population comes increasing problems including economic security and health.

 

Linda Moguel

Linda Moguel, Chairperson, National Council on Ageing

“There are many older persons who are really in dire circumstances and they suffer from poor health, from injuries and even from death because they do not have any form of assistance or any outlet. They do not where to go or who to turn to. We find that quite a large number of persons [I can’t give the number off the top of my head] are living in poverty. That poverty is not only financial – it is housing; they live in poor and unsanitary homes as well; that poverty is also social – they have nowhere to go, they don’t know who to turn to or  they don’t have any friends; that poverty is also care, abuse, and neglect so they just waste away or even die as a result. So, now we are doing a database through a survey through our voice organizations and other organizations like Red Cross and HelpAge who deal with older persons to see if we can come up with a figure on how many of our older persons to see if we can come up with a figure to see how many of our older persons are really in dire poverty. Many of the them have families but they are neglected by their families; they only turn to them when they – the family members – need help; they turn to their mother or father and see how they can get something from the pension, perhaps, from that older person.”

 

So, to help older persons, the national council on ageing is hosting a forum to map a way forward to assist this vulnerable population. Today the consultations will go toward a drafting of a five year plan that seeks to improve the lives of older persons in Belize.

 

Linda Moguel

“We want older persons to know their rights. And we are looking at all aspects of what is the right of older persons. So, we thought we would focus on the economic security and on the health care. We have two panels; one is dealing with the economic security and we are looking at retirement – a fund for retirement. Because many people do not think of this until they are retired and we are looking at an emergency fund in the same vein and we though the Holy Redeemer Credit Union would be one of the areas – any credit union – but the HRCU has proven itself to have a number of members would be one of them to give us how they see it moving. Then we have the Social Security Board. We know there is the Non-Contributory Pension which many people receive and sometimes before they get it, it’s done and sometimes they don’t even spend it themselves – a relative or somebody else gets it. So, we thought that they need to understand that that could be a security fund, an emergency fund and they would be able to have resources to help them through each month. And then of course the small business. And we just heard one of the speakers say you can make your own fund by getting into some kind of – or something you can do with your hands; some skill that you may have and you will be able to sell your product and get money; ten percent of which you will put into a security fund which would be for things like illness immediately or to do something quick like go away on a trip and you would be able to get that money.”

 

Within the Caribbean region, Belize will see one of the highest increases in the population of older persons. Statistics show that the life expectancy has increased over the past ten years and is currently seventy-three years for men and seventy-seven years for women. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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