DCOA flyer  for Month of the Elderly 2021
DCOA flyer for Month of the Elderly 2021

A troubling statistic for the Dominica Council on Ageing (DCOA) is the leading death rate of senior citizens on the island, one aspect of the pandemic they wished was not a reality.

As of September 11, 2021, the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in Dominica stood at six of which five were senior citizens. They include 70 and 78-year-old males who both died on August 26, a 74-year-old female who died on August 27, a 95-year-old female who succumbed to Covid-19 on September 2, and a 93-year-old who passed away on September 5.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, President of the DCOA, Ophelia Olivaccè-Marie deemed the seniors passing as "unfortunate" and stated this is of major concern to the council.

"We appeal to the seniors to continue to remain careful and to wear their masks. From the onset of the pandemic that was something we at DCOA taught them is how to wear their mask properly and washing and sanitizing their hands," she said.

The President continued: "We are the most vulnerable group and it is sad but we have to do what we can to remain safe."

Health officials have announced that all Covid-19 related deaths thus have been unvaccinated people; however, Mrs. Olivaccè-Marie said, the council has left the choice of vaccination to the seniors and their families but encouraged them to speak to their health care practitioners for more information on what best suits them.

"They're adults, and we treat them as adults, they're not babies. And we have to give them an opportunity to express themselves, particularly when those things are directly related to them," she said.

During the month of September, DCOA is celebrating the month of the elderly, since it was gazetted by the Government of Dominica 17 years ago.

This year's theme: "Older Persons Embracing the Digital Age" was inspired by the United Nations theme for the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) "Digital Equity for All Ages".

Mrs. Olivaccè-Marie stated throughout the month, the council is seeking to determine the technological levels of its members, as older persons express their determination to be included in the current digital age.

She said due to the pandemic, this year's Month of the Elderly will be celebrated with the use of traditional and social media.

Mrs. Olivaccè-Marie further expressed that the introduction to the digital apps has proven to be a better coping mechanism for the seniors during this time as it aids them in overcoming the feeling of being isolated.

"We would like people to encourage and include older persons and not pack them in a corner even if we ask them to stay home. Send a message, call them, and don't ask them to buy a smartphone, only for you to use but teach them how to use their WhatsApp and how to use Facebook and FaceTime so that life becomes nicer and easier and also current for them too," she said.

She urged family members and caregivers of senior citizens to have patience with them during the learning process.

Among events carded for the month include, senior tip day which will be a daily inspirational message from an elderly person; grandparent's days which will be a tribute by grandchildren to their grandparents and the council is accepting video submission of "you just saying something nice about your grandparent for no more than two minutes," Mrs. Olivaccè-Marie explained.

A Radiothon will also form part of activities, as well as an essay competition for persons between the age of 10 to 15, and the topic, is, "how can a younger person assist older persons in better accessing digital activities?"

There will also be a video competition and people are asked to film an older person involved in digital or technological activity, centenarians in Dominica will also be observed on centenarian's day, September 23, as well as a panel discussion. The DCOA is finalising plans on a virtual concert for the seniors.

-By Ronalda Luke