Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, has bemoaned what he sees as blatant disregard and a lack of respect for the country???s elderly.

He was addressing the Celebratory Luncheon and Milestone Awards Ceremony for Barbadian Centenarians, organised by the National Committee on Ageing, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, last Sunday.

Mr. Blackett said that although centenarians and other seniors were deserving of ???our honour and reverence???, he had witnessed a trend where anything new was embraced while that which was associated with the past or age was treated as second- rate.

???We have done this with not only inanimate objects, but also with people. We have done this to our own detriment, completely forgetting that had not for the labour, effort and sacrifices of our older folk, none of us would be able to enjoy the progress and advancement that we have become beneficiaries of.

???My desire is to see a change in this state of affairs. I believe that we must give honour where honour is due. And our centenarians and seniors are deserving of our honour and the highest respect,??? he stressed.

The ceremony honoured 92 centenarians, as well as 24 persons who had reached the age of 90.

The Social Care Minister pointed out that Barbados was ???blessed??? to have the second highest ratio of centenarians in the world ??? it is second only to Japan. He added that over the past two decades, the number of persons 85 years and over had grown significantly.

Citing the findings of the 2010 Population and Housing Census, Mr. Blackett noted that there were 1,413 males and 2,928 females aged 85 and over in 2000. This had climbed to 1,660 males and 3,388 females in 2010.

???This rate of increase exceeds that of the general rate of increase of the country???s overall population and is another indicator of our much talked about population ageing,??? he stated.

The Minister recognised Barbados??? oldest man to date, the late James Sisnett, who died at age 113, for being ???an excellent ambassador for this nation???.

Mr. Blackett said that one of the ???clearest victories??? one could achieve was to conquer the many challenges and pitfalls of life to become a centenarian.

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