Minister of Social??Care, Christopher Sinckler, in conversation with Chairperson of the National Assistance Board, Maria Boyce, at the seminar. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

The elderly are repositories of a wealth of knowledge, skill and experience, and we need to see them as a valued resource.

This was underscored by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler, while speaking today at the National Seminar on Elder Abuse for Gazetted Police Officers at the Pan American Health Organization’s Headquarters.

Minister Sinckler commended the Royal Barbados Police Force for its ???sterling contribution’ to this country, but expressed the need for them to be sensitised about elder abuse in a society with an increasingly ageing population.

"The reality is that more and more aged persons are living on their own or are being left at home alone for long periods, and this has increased the risk of abuse," he stated.

The Minister cited physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as abandonment, as some of the forms of ill-treatment affecting the elderly today. He stressed the importance of bringing to justice persons who committed these and other offences against the elderly.

"I hope that in the long term, the current legislation can be amended and others introduced, to allow for more effectiveness in the fight against elder abuse…It is hoped that this seminar will fast forward the establishment of a protocol for the management of reported cases of elder abuse," Mr. Sinckler opined.

The Social Care Minister assured those participating in the seminar that his Ministry would also do its part in tackling the issue of elder abuse.

He affirmed: "The National Committee on Ageing…has strongly addressed the issue of elder abuse in the draft White paper, entitled "A National Policy on Ageing" which will shortly be laid in Parliament. ??"The passage of this policy will open the way for drafting instructions to be secured for the Elder Abuse Bill by the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development," Mr. Sinckler disclosed.

He urged persons to be understanding and patient with the elderly, and not view them as a burden, but as a "segment of our population [who] has a role to play in the sustainable development of our society".

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