Stop discriminating against the elderly
ATHE EDITOR, Madam: LARGE number of Jamaicans 65 years and older (including myself) have become sufficiently convinced that there is a growing systemic discrimination against persons in that age group, being promulgated by segments in the Government and the private sector.
This has become more evident with the advent of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Why is it mandatory for all persons 65 years and older to stay home, Mr Prime Minister, yet several of your colleagues in that cohort are exempted? What about business owners, self-employed persons, professionals, farmers, among others, who do not have enough money in the bank to sustain themselves and must perforce go to work?
Yes, it is necessary for such persons to strictly adhere to the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, like everybody else, but shouldn’t those elderly persons who are reasonably healthy and mentally agile be allowed to act responsibly while they go about their daily business and not be confined to a virtual prison at home?
Let us not forget, too, that many persons in that age group live alone and it is no secret that loneliness can be deleterious to one’s well-being. Shouldn’t there be guidelines and programmes designed to help elderly persons to socialise, for example, going to church?
CRUEL AND HEARTLESS
Then there are those cruel and heartless financial institutions that have been throwing elderly persons under the bus. I was listening to a certain talk show recently during which a female pensioner lamented the fact that she had gone to the bank to pay on her insurance. After waiting for over two hours in a line, part of which was spent standing outside in the broiling sun, having reached the teller, she was curtly told that she had to pay online as there was no way that the bank was going to accept her cash payment. Almost in tears, she explained to the host that she had no idea how to do online banking transactions! And there are numerous such horror stories out there!
I am appealing to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his Cabinet to seriously examine how the elderly are being treated in the Jamaican society and come up with a task force to establish a set of procedures and policy guidelines that will ensure that our golden agers are treated with a greater level of respect and caring during this COVID-19 crisis and an increasingly digital environment. One day we will all get old, hopefully.
LLOYD B. SMITH