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How the community and seniors can advance positive aging were discussed during OPM’s panel discussion.

Published 9th October 2019, 11:48am

The Older Persons Month Panel Discussion attracted interesting and thought-provoking responses by panellists on (Thursday, 3 October).

Aired live on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today show, the dialogue hosted by the Department of Children and Family Services, was moderated by the show’s presenter Sterling Ebanks.

The panellists responded to questions, in Constitution Hall on the topic of how achieve a community approach to positive ageing, which were inspired by this month’s Older Persons Month theme.

The annual observance’s Ambassadors: John E. Ebanks, Beulah McField and McFarlane Conolly were among the panelists: as were Captain Owen Farrington, Rennie Barnes, Lana Poldervaart (Council of Older Persons representative from the Brac) and Denniston Tibbetts (President of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association).

Among the eight questions asked were: their personal views on positive ageing, some of the practical ways positive ageing can be practiced; and encouraged; and did they think that the Cayman Islands is moving towards an age-friendly society.

Taking turns, they spoke passionately on the question of ageing in place (living at home), social participation and social inclusion.

Ms Beulah said that seniors live longer and better quality lives when they age in their accustomed environment with or close to family. The example she gave was of her own mother whose health had significantly improved since returning home from living in the United States.

Mr. Ebanks confirmed the importance of family interaction, love and care, while Mr. Denniston Tibbetts said that parental care worked both ways. He suggested that since parents look after their children growing up, grown children need to take care and be attentive to the social welfare and health needs of their elderly parents.

“It’s not a coincidence that my children and grandchildren ring me every evening to wish me a good night,” he added contending that parents had to take special care to raise children to respect and value seniors.

Captain Owen Farrington spoke on the importance of passing on our cultural values to the next generation, by going into schools and incorporating such lessons into the curriculum. Ms Poldervaart and Mr. Barnes talked about safeguarding seniors’ physical well-being and the importance of them having adequate health insurance provision after retirement. They also talked about the need for discounts on medication for seniors. Mr. Conolly discussed the value of spirituality in positive ageing.

The importance of having an appropriate and accessible transportation system for seniors, to enable their independence in going about their daily lives, was also championed by the panellists.

“The panel discussion was introduced during Older Persons Month last year. This was to provide a forum for seniors to express themselves and their opinions on the issues that affect our ageing population,” said DCFS Director Paulinda Mendoza-Williams.

“The insights that our panellists have, and the value of their first-hand experiences with ageing, can provide policy makers and legislators with important insights when planning for the protection and advancement of our seniors,” she added.

The event’s co-ordinator, DCFS Social Worker Jasmine Powell said: “It is my hope that the value of the panel discussion will stimulate further action in providing age-friendly community initiatives. I encourage the private sector to buy-in and partner with government in providing and improving services that will enhance quality of life for our ageing population, particularly in the areas of transportation and health.”