Senator Donna Cox, Minister of Social Development.

Gail Alexander

Wear white or grey today to observe the contributions of older people as well as health care workers and caregivers to T&T.

The Social Development Ministry yesterday noted that today is the International Day of Older People and a number of activities will be launched to mark that occasion – especially in view of the detrimental effect that the COVID-19 virus has had on older people.

Social Development Minister Donna Cox said yesterday that as part of Government’s commitment to facilitating and encouraging a healthy and vibrant ageing population in T&T, the Ministry’s Division of Ageing will launch a series of activities to commemorate today’s International Day of Older Persons.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing.”

Some of the activities are geared towards the general public and will include an online challenge to commemorate the IDOP and the launch of the “HALO” YouTube Series. For the online challenge, participants will be encouraged to post pictures to the Ministry’s social media pages of them performing the challenge using the promotional hashtags that #HALO: “Honor, Appreciate & Love Older People” and #PICS: “Positive, Inspiring, Connections with Senior Citizens”.

Cox noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected older persons across the globe and in TT. “Several of our COVID deaths in T&T were among people over 60 years of age.”

“Older persons are also challenged by issues such as social isolation and loneliness, inadequate access to health care and social services, neglect and abuse in institutions and care facilities, increased poverty and unemployment, as well as heightened fear, anxiety and trauma as a result of COVID-19.”

“In the upcoming weeks, the Ministry intends to highlight these and many other issues affecting older persons as well as bring more awareness of the contributions made by our senior citizens to national development.

The Ministry wishes to encourage all citizens to find various ways to assist or demonstrate concern for older persons as T&T continues to navigate through this unprecedented period in the world’s history.”

Cox indicated that COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented shift to virtual interactions and transactions and given the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end, skills in information communication technology is crucial to adapting to the new normal.

“The impact on older adults is notable and this is why we are having these activities that encourage the use of technology by our older adults as well as promote intergenerational bonding.”

The Ministry has an OPIC Help Desk to report cases of Elder Abuse. The toll-free number is 800–OPIC. For further information, persons may contact the Division of Ageing at 623-2608 ext’s 1405 and 1415.