Barbados Struggling with an Inactive Ageing Population

Submitted by Bentley
At 96 years old, Charles Eugster is a champion sprinter in his age group and regularly works out with weights to maintain a body closer to that of a 30-year-old

At 96 years old, Charles Eugster is a champion sprinter in his age group and regularly works out with weights to maintain a body closer to that of a 30-year-old

The recent debate on the number of elderly persons exceeding young people in Barbados got me thinking about the real problem we have. It’s not so much the demographic shift that’s the problem, the real problem is we have too many sick people; old and young and the burden on the health care system is having repercussions throughout society.

I remember back in 1997 reading a WHO report that stated that it costs one fifth to prevent disease as it costs to treat. There are so many things we are not doing and our society is not geared for active ageing. Unless we can move to the position of real health care (as opposed to sickness care as we now have) we will continue to bemoan the high expenditures.

As you know, I have written extensively on ways to go about this but unfortunately very little is being done and those in a position to lead are some of the worst offenders. I remember back in 1996 telling the then Minister of Health (Liz Thompson) that within 20 years our health (sickness) care system will collapse under the weight of chronic non-communicable diseases. Sadly, this prediction has come true. You have had my document, Rational Approach To Diet, Exercise in your library (item #27) for over 8 years now. It’s time to rekindle the online discussion.


  • Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~Henry James



  • Well Well & Consequences

    As good as your intentions are..they will still not listen, neither for themselves, have you seen Liz Thompson lately, nor for the population, have you seen most of the government minister/ politicians lately.

    They will wait for the healthcare system to tptally collapse and then start pointing fingers at each other.

    The typical blame game of 5 year olds. ..repugnant in adults, doubly repugnant in leaders.


  • Several years ago the Barbados parliament passed new legislation making all foreign-born permanent residents of Barbados inelligible for medical care in the public hospitals. It is suggested that we should move back “home”. I already AM home in Barbados.

    In addition, SAGICOR insurance company’s policy is to drop seniors when they reach age 70. This strategy will result in the foreign-born permanent residents being forced to leave Barbados. Who can grow old without health care?

    Some put forth the argument that foreign-born retired residents do not pay income taxes and have not contributed to the economy. Quite to the contrary. As an American, I have brought a steady stream of of foreign exchange into Barbados month in and month out for 24 years. I and hundreds of others contribute to this economy by creating jobs with our foreign exchange. And I do pay tax at the gas pump, store, and every time I pay for my residence permit.

    The for sale signs are up all over the island with foreigners selling out and leaving. Barbados should consider the impact on the economy if and when the foreign exchange brought into Barbados by foreign-born residents dries up. Rather than encouraging us to leave, the government should consider policies to entice foreign-born residents to stay.


  • Many of the diseases here can be the exposure to herbicides and pesticides. It is ok to tell the people that they must eat healthy BUT eating the right foods doesn’t mean they are healthy if they are laced with poison.


  • Amy L Beam September 24, 2016 at 8:52 AM #

    Excellent post!

    Without the spending and taxes paid by foreign-born residents, Barbados’ finances and sovereign ratings would be much worse than B-.


  • We need more sidewalks so that people can walk safely to their short errands children can walk to school, families can walk to church etc.

    We do not need to spend more money being accommodating to private cars. NO FLYOVERS.

    We need to spend more time outdoors doing gardening. And I mean doing it ourselves not watching while a “yard-boy” does it. Take up that hoe and that garden fork and break out a sweat. We need to spend time cultivating these fields and hills beyond recall. Your efforts will produce good food and good exercise. I do this and this morning my blood pressure is 104/69 and the heart rate is 75.

    If you don’t have any land maybe there is a vacant lot in your neighbourhood that you can rent from the land owner. If you are retired, or if you are working if you can spend 3 mornings or evenings a week or on the weekends working the land for 6 to 10 hours a week you will see a remarkable improvement in your BP and you will get to enjoy good quality, “free” fresh, tasty produce. And in addition you will have extras to gift to friends, neighbours, extended family and

    …even to enemies lol!!!

    They won’t be your enemy for long if you keep them supplied with good quality fresh produce.



  • If we don’t exercise and if we don’t eat well our bodies have a million ways of punishing us for our sins. And no government on the face of the earth has enough money to take care of its people if they won’t exercise and won’t eat well.


  • This demographic time bomb is not uncommon. The problem is having a government that does not know how to develop social policy, and a university where academics are all at sea on the subject.
    First abandon a retirement age; people in early retirement are much healthier (yes they are) than any other previous generation in history.
    Second allow gradual retirement, working part-time until full retirement. Encourage lifelong education, free to retirees.
    Get recently retired people to volunteer ie teachers. Give retired people free gym membership.
    Get the elderly, CBC and the university to work on an oral history of Barbados, going from district to district, for example, who remembers goat racing on bank holidays, tick licking, warri, mashing trash, hopping buses, fly sticks, scooters?.


  • hal asstin is a Gerontologist now? oh me am


  • A survey of the Barbados landscape day to day is showing that healthy 50 something and early 60s are being sent home by organizations that have been quietly downsizing in recent times. Expect the same when government is pushed by this report to rationalize government state corporations (what is the latest with the BIDC sending home 60 year old case).


  • I agree with Simple Simon.
    Hal Austin, Check out Elombe’s books for the answer to your questions. He has documented those things by going to the villages years ago and recording the things you talk. about, Consult him and you will learn what he has done.


  • David September 24, 2016 at 1:45 PM #

    My age group of over 60’s are not easily re-employable and with neccesity being the mother of invention it is a golden opportunity to get involved in not only the land but other areas such as woodwork,engine repairs,welding,craft work,etc,etc as well as refurbishing household items that are heading for the dump…….we can find loads of things to do as well as taking our daily walks and looking after our diabetes or other ailments.We can also look after each other by forming active sub-groups in BARP.


  • @ Simple Simon September 24, 2016 at 12:26 PM
    “If we don’t exercise and if we don’t eat well our bodies have a million ways of punishing us for our sins. And no government on the face of the earth has enough money to take care of its people if they won’t exercise and won’t eat well.”

    SS, you have distilled a ‘pint’ of wisdom there. Your health is the greatest wealth you could ever amass.
    Your own personal health, as an adult, is first and foremost your own responsibility. Not the doctor’s; not the government’s.

    So here we go, the one-size-fit-all Simple Simon!

    What about “legalizing Euthanasia and make it available under clinical conditions for those who are not genetically gifted with that propensity to enjoy good health or those who are just tired with the long stay of boredom and misery and just want to cut out, snuff it all and go through the sunshine gates of oblivion?

    Maybe the legalization of ganja will obviate the need for such ‘outlandish’ legal proposals and the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes would lead us all to the elusive Fountain of Youth and eternal life thereby making the medical profession redundant while putting undertakers out of the business for life.


  • Well Well & Consequences

    I remember years ago taking the train into Manhattan and every morning you would see 2 or 3 hundred year olds, briefcase in hand, taking the train to work, I remember one dude could not lift his head…but that was no deterrent, he went to work every day….many corporations, particularly banks…keep some of their very senior citizens.

    What’s with the age discrimination…..60s are relatively young with decades of experience…..20 year olds are dropping dead.


  • Even if you have abundant collateral, clean credit record, management qualifications, and paid up life insurance, loans officers will not even offer you a seat at 60+.


  • the word is aging, leave out the e.


  • they talk about the elderly like if its a burden on the country. Well too bad, most of these elderly people work hard all their lives, and they still got bills to pay. I know lots of people pass 60 years old still paying for land, and land tax, food , utilities. Not no ones fault the government take the money and wasted it


  • Ageing vs. aging

    For the past participle and gerund corresponding to the verb age, American and Canadian writers use aging. Ageing is the preferred spelling outside North America. The dropping of the e in American and Canadian English does not extend to ageism (meaning discrimination based on age), which is the preferred spelling everywhere.


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