I have written several articles about the elderly as a part of my ongoing commitment and dedication towards ensuring the elderly were given a voice and that our eyes would be opened to caring more for our older generation.
I found it pertinent, after having seen a video on the news and subsequently on YouTube titled “Bullied School Bus Monitor Karen Klein – SHOCKING VIDEO OF BULLYING ELDERLY LADY!!!” I felt the need to further focus on this topic. The video showed a group of young school children on the school bus both verbally and physically abusing the bus monitor, Ms. Karen Klein (an elderly woman).
I had previously written about retired persons (mostly senior citizens) being reintegrated into the working population as was the case with Ms. Klein. However, they are some serious downsides to holding some of these jobs as was shown in this particular instance. This is one of the reasons I wish to focus on the support mechanisms which can be offered to our senior citizens for them to live better lives.
It’s no secret that I’ve always lobbied for more Private Public Partnerships (PPP) to be used in sculpting the way our country moves forward. In dealing with some of the issues which affect our elderly, and thinking holistically, one thought which surfaces is: what if the Government in collaboration with the private sector would be willing to invest in a tool or mechanism that may make the lives of our elderly simpler and easier? The concept of a “one-stop shop” facility immediately came to my mind.
This one-stop concept will involve establishing a facility which will assist in bill payments, medicinal requirements and perhaps host a recreational area allowing for some social activities for our elderly. It will be at a central location or complex set-up just to cater to those needs for our elderly.
I’ve fiddled with the idea of having a shuttle service before, but never has it been specific to any demographic. By utilizing a shuttle system, our elderly can be picked up from their homes and taken to pay their bills, get their prescriptions filled, take care of their NIS, collect their pension or even get a physical check-up. The addition of a recreational area allowing for socialization among their peers is also another thought. This will enable the maintenance of their mental and social capacities – playing a few board games, exercising, or even those who are technology-savvy to participate in some online activity via the internet.
I strongly believe more will be and can be done to achieve this once it’s initiated. The private sector will of course play an integral role in ensuring stability and continuity of such a concept, thereby creating greater impact through conjunctive duties. I also believe that the shuttle system which will be used in this scenario can be expanded to perhaps have a test/pilot phase in Georgetown to serve the general public.
To have a shuttle service for the general public is an area where I would want to explore a bit in the future, but to give you an idea of what I have in mind, take for example the Stabroek Market Square. As I see it, the Stabroek Market plays a role in attracting tourists to our country. However, because of the chaos and confusion which occurs daily due to the minibus parks, taxi services and the vendors to a lesser extent, the true beauty of this attraction is not realized. I’ve always thought that having a shuttle system developed and placed within strategic locations in Georgetown can lead to less or no confusion, and of course, a more efficient public transport system.
I have seen, with admiration, some commercial agencies have established systems to enable the daily errands of our seniors such as ‘discount’ days, special lanes at the commercial banks etc., but, with the increase traffic on our roads, perhaps we can begin to think of the establishment of special lanes for our seniors. Due to their obvious limitations, seniors (drivers) can be subject to bullyism on the road by our younger drivers and even pedestrians. The effects of this can be grave, to include loss of limb and life, and thus warrant some attention.
Additionally, while the social and other ‘infrastructural’ – for want of a better term – services will be commendable in helping our senior citizens, we also have to consider the ‘soft’ side of the equation. Perhaps, we need to generate ways of recognizing, on a national level, the worth and works of those who have tirelessly served the country.
We sometimes see highlights of select centenarians or those who have been infamous in some shape or form, for example, but what about the ‘average Joe or Jane’? They are often the unsung voices – a teacher, a nurse, a garbage collector etc – who would have contributed to saved lives in this country. Perhaps we need to generate a system such as national database in which we can acknowledge the works of these stalwarts.
Another area, is the need for a mechanism to capture the institutional memory of our seniors. Now, this is key, as they were the ones who would have participated in the establishment of the foundation of many an infrastructural and technological initiative operational today. While arguably, the techniques may change with technology, one cannot deny the wealth of knowledge of the fundamentals.
Although I’ve merely touched superficially on some of the kinds of support we can offer our elderly, I’d like to encourage all my fellow Guyanese to be more accommodating and respectful to our elders.
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