Out with the old

It is ironic commentators refer to Barbados as an ageing society but we struggle with implementing adequate frameworks to attend to the needs of the elderly. The biggest embarrassment is to read about senior citizens who are abandoned at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and elsewhere by family members. 

The blogmaster can list many reasons we should take good care of our elders, however, the one reason that resonates the most is that a it is the humane thing to do.

Increasingly the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease has made it more challenging to care for senior citizens. We need to have a relevant policy and develop a better system to care for the elderly. As they say, you can tell a lot by how any society looks after the elderly and animals.

Continue reading

Minister Kirk Humphrey and Theresa Castro

First it was the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and now some heartless Barbadians have found a new dumping facility for their elderly relatives at the Harrison Point COVID-19 Isolation Facility in St Lucy. They are dropping off the senior citizens infected with COVID-19 but are not returning for them after they have recovered…

Emblazoned on the front page of the recent Sunday Sun was the embarrassing news some Barbadians are abandoning elderly family members at healthcare facilities. The latest being the newly outfitted Harrison’s Point. What caught the blogmaster’s attention was the cookie cutter quote attributed to Minister of Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey – he described the development as concerning, pointing out that the situation was indicative of the work that was needed at the level of the family and government to ensure greater provisions for the elderly within a context of an ageing population …blah blah blah. Is this the same Humphrey who was to lead the new Blue Economy? 

Minister Kirk Humphrey this is a message for you. Have you ever been in the area of Top Rock gas station or Dover, and spotted an old lady with short grey hair, a slight stoop, and seeming confused wandering around talking to herself? If you have, then you would have seen Theresa Castro. 

It was brought to the blogmaster’s attention the elderly lady spends most of the day by Top Rock gas station. From reports, she sleeps in the gallery of her former home (where her daughter currently lives). There is a good Barbadian giving her food and has been trying to source assistance from several if not all of the social services for her. To no avail. It seems she has a mental challenge and is showing signs of dementia. It was reported to the blogmaster the plight of the elderly lady was reported to Minister Kirk Humphrey’s secretary. Up to the time of posting this blog there was no intervention from a single government agency to assist Theresa Castro.

Do you know Minister Kirk Humphrey was quoted in the 19 June 2022 edition of the Nation newspaper he has engaged the Barbados Police Service to assist with those who continue to abuse the elderly? …Blah Blah Blah
Is there any surprise Barbadians have become cynical and apathetic towards politicians?

The blogmaster further understands the plight of Theresa Castro was brought to the attention of the Nation and Barbados Today newspapers, Psychiatric hospital, George Griffith, family members et al- so far there has been no assistance forthcoming for Theresa Castro.

Have we become a soulless a society to ignore a senior citizen in her twilight years in need of assistance? What does it say about the society? What does it say about the good use of tax dollars funding Minister Humphrey’s Elder Affairs ministry?

You have Five Years to Live…!

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

Imagine you have been told you have 5 years to live. What could go through your mind? The questions, the emotional pull upon your lived reality. You realize that you are not invincible but finite. There is an end to your journey and you are not prepared for it to happen.

I know of a few people who were told they had a limited schedule with regards to their lives. Our medical professionals often have to tell their patients this type of news. Must be hard to do so.

I have seen many people die before me. Young people often went quickly while those who were elderly knew their time was limited. They could feel it in their bones, by the way they were forced to live, dealing with medical issues and simply the ravages of age.

Well you know you have five years to live. What will you do? How will you live? How will you share this  with your family? Can you walk quietly into the night or will you go kicking and fighting?

I once sat with a elderly lady who was dying. She could not speak, but simply looked into my eyes and I into hers. Hands together, gently massaging her hand and speaking to her not about the after life to come, but about her life, the gift she had been to her family, neighbours and friends. As a chaplain I had not followed the time proven formula. You know, talk about Gods love for Her, and that a place was waiting for Her in Paradise. I have always centred myself upon the person. If God loves us, I do not need to remind her of that do I? 

Well after You take care of all the essentials, like your will, the debts you have, and messaged everyone about the news of your future demise what to do?

What do you simply want? You can continue living your life as you have been. No changes, except perhaps you can have one more beer or glass of wine then usual. Remember all those people who won a lottery and then say they will not change anything?  Yah really. 

Developing a  bucket list may make sense. Everything depends on the type of person you are right. Single, married, young or old. A single person may find satisfaction in so many things like travel, buying things, sex or finding the right person to share their shortened lives. Since you cannot take it with you like the Pharaoh’s of old, emotional and physical satisfaction may fulfil you. Buying a expensive new wardrobe may make your year, and leaving it all to charity a bonus. A hedonistic attitude maybe what your looking for indeed.

Put yourself into a charitable frame of mind. Helping your neighbour, or those less fortunate then you is indeed commendable. Helping others often brings you self meaning, self understanding and strengthens character. However think before giving all your belonging away. At the last hour you may get good news that you can be cured, salvaged in some way. Would be a shame continuing your life in poverty . Never react, always think before you act. 

What if you are a religious person? Boy the questions you could ask, like why did God do this to me, why me, why now? You may or may not fear the promised afterlife. Perhaps you have not been a pillar of goodness. Injured another perhaps? Well in the bad old days, they had sin eaters who would take your sin upon themselves. Ever ask why there are so may grand churches in Europe? Like the song “stairway to heaven” many wealthy but nasty individuals tried to buy their way into paradise. You could try in a small way yourself. The good people of AA seem have it right. You need to recognize who and what you are, and then see the good and damage you have done to others. Then you need to seek absolution, not from God, but from your moral neighbours. If you believe yourself to be one of the chosen you may not need to worry about passing into eternity. However, Image if you enter heaven and find everyone there, is someone you have always hated. Hell in Heaven. 

Humanists can enjoy their lives to the fullest, while doing good, enjoying themselves and their neighbours too. The world is a big place and no matter the time you may have, you’ll never be able to experience all that the world has to offer. You can certainly try and put it all onto credit cards too. Experience the world on someone else’s dime. Not to be encouraged, but them who am I to give you advice?

I think I know what I would do. May I tell you? Since my backyard is my cottage, and what brings me the most joy is my family, I will stay with them, not impose debt upon them, but do all things in moderation. After all five years is a long time. Really. Ever lived an experience that seemed longer then it had been. The three hours I spent with the above mentioned lady did not seem like  a long time. My concern and empathy for her encompassed me, and drew me into her life experience. For that moment, experiencing this lovely lady seemed a gift, and not a burden. In five years image the books you could right, the people you can meet, the love you can experience.

I have had one concern most of my life. as an amateur historian I marvelled at the “great” people that came before me. They left a mark upon this world, whether it be a mark of innovation, creativity, intelligence and humanity, or a mark of Cain. (biblical again). Good vs evil. Creative vs destructive.I think the most important question you can ask yourself is this…What type of mark do I want to leave, how will I improve this world? We are all pebbles of sand in the wind, but together we make up this world, like a sand dune that is constantly moving, we can make a difference, separately or together. Where are your strengths? Can you create for others or just for yourself?

I want to leave a mark that my family, friends and neighbour’s will be proud of, and no time limit can change that impulse, that craving to enjoy what I am to become.

Appreciate and live your lives to the fullest. Remember we are all God’s on a land that we transform daily. Only we can make a difference. 

Plight of Abused Elders in Barbados

Submitted by Mama Leah
The link below is part of a conversation I captured on my mobile phone between myself and an Elder person trying to escape, albeit with no access to his own money or any money at all.  If this is not a cry for help, you tell me. Barbados authorities, more often than not, get these reports but interrogates the reporter rather than investigate the report. Only when it hits social media and becomes a scandal then everyone scrambles to show how committed they are to protecting the Elders in our midst.
So here goes:

Today I visited Worthing Police Station for assistance in helping this Elderly. Although I explained how sensitive and treacherous these matters are, The Officer asked for a phone number and called the home, setting the perpetrators on the alert and offensive. When we got to the premises, as I expected, the main protagonist was all riled up and refused to cooperate. Denied any merit to the report. She accosted me and accused me of having nefarious objectives.  So we left. I was simply carrying out what I thought to be my civic duties. I got splattered with shit, and this is only the first round.
The Officer is of the sickening opinion, (in a nutshell) that the perpetrators: the children and ex-wife, are his children and wife (family) therefore has rights to his assets. On a previous visit to Worthing Station the officer told me that “if it is his daughter, then she cannot be abusing him, she might see it as protecting him and further a daughter cannot be considered as stealing from a parent, she’s his child and its her money too and she will get it anyway when he dies”. Why then not wait until he dies?
The UN Convention 1991 holds a different view.
It is this kind of backward, primitive, bull shit that some people hold dear that discourages public-spirited persons from intervening on behalf of the Elderly or other forms of domestic violence.
So I went to the Welfare Department. After relaying my story, the Officer brilliantly told me that “since you began with the National Assistance Board and they have the background, I think you should go back to them”.  Mind you, she did not say it was not her department’s portfolio.  So i went to the National Assistance Board did the same blasted thing and again was told that “going in to protect or remove the elder/anyone” was not their mandate.
What the fuck is going on?
Whose mandate is it?
Three RH law enforcement agencies in one fucking day and none of them willing or able to do anything. What are we paying these people for?
They all say that it is difficult to intervene/process unless the victims themselves complain to them or they have ‘evidence’ especially since I am not a family member.
Who is it that has access to these persons, other than the very same family members, to carry out these vile and distasteful acts against them?  The Gardener in St Lucy?
What is evidence?
How does a sick or dependent person, held captive in their own home or a nursing home get access to outside agencies to make a complaint themself?  What poppycock is this?  Shouldn’t a responsible government have a Database of ‘Vulnerable/Dependent Elder Persons” and be checking up on them, like since 1991 or 1999?  I picked up a Bookmark from one of these agencies today. “International Year of Older Persons 1999. Let’s Support Our Older Persons. 1999, 1999,1999 – 20 RH years. Tell me I am not hallucinating. Perhaps I am missing something.
Somebody making a lot of RH sport on this matter.  No specific law on Elder-Abuse in Barbados after all this time? What are they waiting for, the cows to come home?
So where are the Community Nurses? What do they do? Who is it that they visit, and how do they do this that there are some persons left out of the loop and who being robbed black-blind or traumatized or humiliated or victimized?  All these persons who have worked and contributed to the development of this country suddenly have no carat.
Barbados, is this how we say thank you?

This Island State

Submitted by Mama Leah
“look at the King, look at the King, the King, the King, the King is without his clothes.”
Barbados has no legislation to specifically address and protect abuse of the Elderly.
You would think that a country that boasts so many centenarians would have had the presence of mind to prepare and provide for this group of its citizens.  That after all these years and with a Governor-General who visits each one and herself an Attorney by profession and the Prime Minister too, they would want that these people enjoy a comfortable twilight.  Or that since June 24, 2016, and Alicia Archer’s article in the Barbados Today – On Truly fixing elderly abuse – four frigging years, this mess-up, slip-up, frigg-up would have been addressed post haste.
Alas, not.
So time and time again more and more our senior citizens are subjected to merciless abuse of person, property, integrity and no one seems able to stem this onslaught.
For the most part, the less achieved and accomplished are deposited at the Geriatric Hospital with less than a backward glance.  Others become literal prisoners in their own homes with little access to outside assistance or rescue or resolve ONLY BECAUSE THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE FAILED TO CONSIDER THEM AND MAKE ADEQUATE AND SENSIBLE LEGISLATION(s) TO PROTECT THEM.
Mind you, Barbados is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.  Conventions are ‘hard laws’..ie when a UN Member State ratifies (signs) a treaty, the treaty becomes legally binding on that member state.
Notwithstanding all of this, there are legislations under which older persons can be protected, such as the Domestic Violence Law, Human Rights Law, and Criminal Law for theft or fraud.  So why is it so difficult to get action for these ‘vulnerable’ people?  I’ll tell you.  They just don’t frigging well care.  Its merely academic
This is a crying shame. NO.  It’s flipping unacceptable.