DCOA public relations officer Irish
DCOA public relations officer Irish

(By Ainsworth IRISH- 2nd Vice President and Public Relations Officer- DCOA)

I feel honoured having been given the opportunity to articulate some thoughts on this 15th day of June 2020 to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The theme this year is LIFTING UP VOICES, which, to my mind, is very timely considering the things that matter around us; example, the global pandemic and the challenges which lie ahead.

The Dominica Council on Ageing, which is currently headed by our president Ophelia Olivaccé-Marie and her members continue to champion the cause for full recognition of the elderly on Dominica. A number of groups and various organizations, at least twice a year, meet to discuss matters of interest as it relates to sustainable measures for the improvement of a better quality of life for the elderly. Health care, food security, and the delivery of care packages are some of the activities that the Council has embarked upon for our elderly on island.

Dominica has documented over 26 centenarians; our precious gems have always been highlighted and recognized on special occasions because they have blazed the trail for the new generation.

In recent years, however, concern has been raised in different forums, on the matter of abuse to the elderly, something which we must always condemn. It is fitting that Government agencies associated with the elderly must put measures in place to ensure that abuse of the elderly does not show its ugly head in developing societies. This has always been a concern here and it is expressed strongly by the United Nations.

Civil society must continue to demonstrate strong opposition to injury and abuse of the elderly. Elder abuse can be defined as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". It is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.

In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public's view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem. Statistics on Dominica are not available at this time, but I am sure there are pockets of this unwanted evil on Dominica.

Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported.

Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries — ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands that our country, Dominica, put measures in place to nip it in the bud early.

Due to the global pandemic, COVID-19, the Dominica Council on Ageing had to curtail all gatherings with the elderly at this time of crisis; however, our elderly are not forgotten as we continue to network to ensure a secure environment for all.

We must never forget that older people are essential in the fabric of our society. It's time for us to acknowledge their importance and recognize they are entitled to the respect of their families and especially the communities.