Permanent Secretary with responsibility for senior citizens affairs, Ms. Sharon Rattan, urged Kittitians to “spend time with the elders. Bring them out to the activities and call the Department of social and community Development to register your elders so that they can be outreached and included in our activities”.
The international theme for this year’s elder’s month is “Growing Opportunities & Challenges of Global Ageing” but according to Ms. Rattan the Ministry has revised the theme to “Understanding and Planning for the Growing Opportunities and Challenges of Ageing.” She went on to outline the opportunities that are available for those interested in caring for our seniors, including employment in the area of geriatric care and support services, retirement planning and lifelong learning.
She added that the department will be working to enhance the nation’s understanding and planning capacity for the individual and collective opportunities and challenges related to active ageing.
“Regionally, Latin America and the Caribbean have been ageing rapidly but it is projected to increase exponentially in the coming years,” Ms Rattan said.
She also explained “from a national stand point, the percentage of the population that is sixty-five years and older has increased over the past 40 years from five percent in 1960 to eight percent in 2001. During the decade 2000 to 2010, the percentage decreased from eight percent in 2001 to 5.4 percent in 2004 and then increased to 8.5 percent in 2005 with a further decrease to 7.7 percent in 2010.
Over the next 40 years, the percentage is expected to more than double from 7.7% in 2010 to 17.84% in 2050. With this information, said the Permanent Secretary, it is imperative that we provide a society that is ready to adapt to this changing demographic to ensure the rights of all citizens.
The challenges that face individuals and countries are the costs associated with living longer, the preparation for retirement as it relates to use of time and maintaining a standard of living on a relatively fixed income and market opportunities for persons over the official age of retirement.