Any interventions to assist older persons in active ageing must have the input of elderly persons at the conception of the programme and not at the stage of delivery.

This assertion was made yesterday by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, while speaking at a lecture to commemorate International Day of Older Persons entitled: Solutions to Active Ageing.

???There must be dialogue and input from older persons to ensure their buy-in and subsequent acceptance and support of interventions.

“Feedback must also be encouraged to determine the impact and effectiveness of services; to evaluate whether the intended outcomes are being realised; and to collect information to justify the maintenance or expansion of programmes,??? he stated.

The Minister also cautioned that any programmes or policies developed must be cognisant of the diversity of the older population and the variations in health status, participation and levels of independence.

???Our interventions must therefore take into account social, physical, emotional and environmental aspects of need, as well as the varying capacities of older persons, including those who are cognitively impaired,??? he noted.

Mr. Blackett added that such inclusion and proper research would promote solutions which were based, not on normative needs as defined by experts, but on the felt and expressed needs of the intended beneficiaries. This move, he opined, would combat the challenges which present barriers to active ageing.

He identified these challenges as social, including shrinkage in the informal care sector; diminished familial and community support systems; an increase in age-related diseases; and declining fiscal resources.

Mr. Blackett also spoke to Government???s National Policy on Ageing for Barbados, noting that the document had identified the social environment as one of its priority areas, and had recommended the social inclusion of older persons.

He added that the Policy was grounded in the philosophy of equal opportunity, equal access, inclusion and active ageing, and sought to promote the participation of older persons, by removing barriers and establishing an enabling environment.

The Minister listed priority areas and recommendations coming out of the policy document as: financial and economic security; health and health care, the physical and built environment; the social environment; legislation and research.??

October 1 was designated as International Day of Older Persons by the United Nations General Assembly on December 14, 1990.

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