Minister of Social Care, Chris Sinckler (FP)??

The National Senior Games have been judged as having "grown from just another spectacle on the calendar of Barbadian events… to being a major component of Government’s national policy on ageing".

Minister of Social Care, Chris Sinckler, made this assertion as he addressed the opening ceremony of the games at the National Stadium on Saturday. He deemed the games as another avenue through which the Government was seeking to ensure the participation of seniors, for as long as possible.

"It conveys the concern of Government for the health of our older population, many of whom have had their quality of life threatened by the onset of complications due to [chronic] non-communicable diseases… This policy also serves as a motivational tool for our seniors to remain active and enjoy an enhanced quality of life through exercise and camaraderie," Minister Sinckler stated.

Health Minister, Donville Inniss, who delivered the feature address, outlined that the motto of the Senior Games "Active Ageing, Ageing Active" highlighted the importance of good health throughout the life cycle and fitted well with the broad mandate of the Ministry of Health to define specific interventions to promote health and wellness for all categories of our population.?? The major health concern among the elderly, he maintained, related to chronic non-communicable diseases … and obesity, along with their complications of strokes, heart attacks and amputation.

"Most of these diseases are rooted in lifestyle and behavioural practices and interventions must therefore be aimed at promoting healthy living … Exercise is probably the single most important thing one can do to age gracefully. It is very important for maintaining your functionality as you get older.

The experts argue that even in moderate amounts, exercise can help you enjoy life and avoid diseases that many people mistakenly believe come with age automatically. The idea of the National Senior Games demonstrates that we can retain physical and mental vitality as we age," he explained.

Mr. Inniss, therefore, pledged that the Health Ministry would continue to work with the organising Ministry of the games, the Ministry of Social Care, and other partners, to devise solutions that would enable our elders to maintain a healthy lifestyle.??

He also suggested "day care services for the elderly" whereby persons who work during the day could have their elderly loved ones accommodated in a safe and secure environment.?? This, he outlined, was currently functional at the Geriatric Hospital, on a limited basis.

Minister Inniss said: "Whilst we recognise some individuals would need round-the-clock care in a health related facility, it is this government’s policy that we should seek to have our elderly individuals remain in their homes and within their communities for as long as possible. We must never in this society adopt a policy that supports institutionalising our elderly or those who are differently able as a first recourse. That is not Bajan-like and it is certainly not right!"

The games saw an increase in athletes from 187 to 220 this year and the addition of road and lawn tennis, archery and the standing board jump. Sixty athletes also took part in a 5k run/walk last Sunday.

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