COMMENTARY: Our Country’s Aging Dilemma

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room


….by Audley Phillip

Audley Phillip

The wide scale abandonment of the elderly at the hospital is a reflection of how society at large views the elderly. This is a cultural problem.

Abandoned patients are usually those with dementia, a costly, complex, unrelenting and incurable disease that takes a toll on family caregivers’ physical and mental health.

Many families simply cannot provide the help they need. For some relatives, the frustration, fear and loss of hope is enough to abandon their loved one. At least, in the hospital they get care, food and medical help.

Most people simply do not know and understand the home environment including the financial, social and logistical difficulties families face.

With a very large percentage of our population reaching retirement age, this situation is bound to be exasperated and increased. We need more than  just lip service and nice sound bites in order to resolve this. Simply trying to penalize families would not work.

We have to drastically IMPROVE and INCREASE the holding capacity of the Fiennes Institute and begin to see it as an important and  extended part of our Health Care offering.

The administration of the Sir Lester Bird Mount St. John’s Medical Centre should be able to move patients seamlessly from the hospital to a new and improved Fiennes Institute  after a deadline is passed and the patients next of kin didn’t show up to collect them.   

Our seniors deserve far more and better treatment than they are currently getting. Many of them have toiled endlessly in service to this nation only to be abandoned and treated like floor cloth when they are old. I am sick and tired of this!

If  we don’t make better provisions for our aging population, many of them would not only be abandoned at the hospital, but some would be left on the streets as well. 

Just as we seek to build and maintain clinics islandwide in order to serve the sick, the injured and the infirmed, we must see it  important to  provide adequate housing and shelter for the elderly among us.

They say  age is honour but the condition  and treatment of many of our senior citizens are  dishonourable,  sad and deplorable  and nothing to be proud of.

We can do better!  They deserve much better.

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