The elderly deserve to live in dignity – Energy Minister

The social systems that took care of old people no longer exist. People now have to move to go and work, go to the farms to survive. In the meantime, what programmes are in place to take care of the needs of the old people? The Member of Parliament for Ellembelle Constituency asked during the launch of the Elderly Care and recreational Center at Ampain in the Western Region.

Globally there are 810 million people who are aged.

According to the 2010 census, nearly 2 million Ghanaians can be described as elderly because they are 60 years and above. This is because the concept of elderly refers to a category of adults who are above 60, according to the UN.

In Ghana, the main needs of the elderly that require public attention are health, nutrition, living arrangements and conditions as well as better access to amenities. The provision of these needs, and adequately, is the challenge that the people we call aged – our mothers, fathers, grandfathers and uncles and aunties are faced with.

The MP, who is also the Minister for Petroleum told Joy News he vowed to build a center to cater for the basic needs of the aged in the society, after a chilling encounter he had.

“It happened to me during the campaign in 2012, we entered a big household in Essiama one afternoon and we were leaving we heard a voice from one of the rooms. Speaking in Nzema mewoke ooo, w hich means I am here. We entered the room and found a woman, almost 90 years, left in the room alone all day. When we asked her she said everybody is gone. We found her around 3 pm – no breakfast, no lunch, no shower, and no attention. I left very humbled.”

The process of ageing is taking place in an era in which the traditional systems that support elderly have been transformed by the processes of modernization and globalization and in the absence of properly functioning public welfare systems.

Mr Kaku Eduku is 85 years old he lives at Asasetre in the Ellembelle district. Most of his peers are dead. The few who are alive are very weak and poor.

“During my teens I was able to help myself and my parent but at this age I find this difficult. Though my wife is helping me I can’t manage myself and I need help. When I was young I was able to do everything… I thought I would remain like that but not knowing that a time shall come when I will fail. Those who are the same age as myself are all suffering,” he said

Some of these old people do not even know their ages. Another man, Kwasi Armah thinks he is one hundred years old. He prides himself as one of the people whose sweat built the Nkruful Agric Secondary school, which has produced exceptional citizens like the current MP for Ellembelle. Sadly today, he begs for food every day.

Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah said, “The center is expected to host nearly 200 old people daily. It is going to be a day programme because we are not yet at a point where we can have living quarters for the center. So the idea is to make sure that on rotational basis, the old people will be registered. Then we will bring experts from different fields, whether psychologist, nurses and doctors, nutritionist, people who will help them exercise, motivational speakers. We will bring them here in the morning by eight o’clock; It is going to run seven days a week. In the evening these old people will be leaving to their homes, having met friends, talked about old times and got the chance to even interact with the young people, school children impacting knowledge and experience. They will go back home motivated and feel indeed that security and dignity they deserve –they are getting.”

Ghana has a ‘National Ageing Policy: Captioned, Ageing with security and dignity’. The caption of the ageing policy suggests that security and dignity are important components of the ageing experience of the elderly in Ghana. However, most of the aged in our communities are neglected living under very deplorable conditions.

In traditional settings in Ghana, the aged are perceived as having wisdom more than any other in society. Their social roles include counseling.

A higher proportion of the elderly compared with younger adults suffers from non-communicable (mostly chronic) and debilitating diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, among others, that are medically expensive to manage and treat.

Usually, the elderly suffer one form of disability or another. The proportion with disability increases with advancement in age and this is slightly more prevalent among the rural dwellers than among their urban counterparts. The commonest types of disability include sight, physical, emotional, intellectual and hearing disabilities.

The elderly care and recreational center will provide support for the aged. Every morning a shuttle bus will go through the communities and bring old people to the center. They would be fed nutritious meals with healthcare providers available to cater for the health needs of the people

Eighty-five-year old Kaku Eduku noted in excitement, “The elder care initiative at Ampain, that Honorable has put up will help us a lot. I know that will keep my life span longer. When I heard that this thing was going on I became glad and I am still waiting for Emmanuel Armah Buah to live long and extend it to other places”.

Honorable Armah Kofi Buah said managing the center would require funding and support. To ensure that it is sustained; a foundation has been established that would be managed by a board transparently.

He said “We want this to be something that will stay for a long time and I think it can only be possible if we get funding from individuals and organizations who have been there to make this happen in the first place. So I am asking companies individuals to come and support the AYA Foundation for us to make this center a living legacy for the people. AYA is my mother. She is a real hero – that is what our old people are.”

The launch of the AYA Foundation’s ELDER CARE AND RECREATIONAL CENTER was attended by the minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Nana Oye Lithur who lauded the initiative.

She said government is making strenuous efforts at mainstreaming the study of elder care (Geriatrics) in the training of health professionals. The guest of Honor at the Launch was Chinese Ambassador to Ghana , Sun Baohong

This elder care and recreational center at Ampain would improve the quality of life of the elderly in the communities. It is hoped that many of them will live happier, better lives as they visit the center to access some of the critical daily needs.

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