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Old is gold, but are we ready for our elderly population?

Sometime last week in one of my ladies’ WhatsApp group, a friend posted that she was looking for a domestic manager and she preferred an ‘old’ lady, say over 30’. “Since when is 30 old?” The ladies protested.  It was obvious from that no one wants to be old, rather, to be called old.

Even though we are all heading there, so fast that according to the World Health Organisation, the world’s population over 60 years is expected to double from 11 per cent to 22 per cent between 2000 and 2020, while in sub-Saharan Africa, by 2025, the elderly population is expected to get to 67 million.

This generation has more children meeting their grandmothers and great grandmothers, but also has such a wanting attitude. Today, being called old is no longer a pride, but an insult, and although the government has put in place a couple of measures, including having a policy on older persons and the ageing, it is not enough. The cash transfer of Sh2,000 a month, for instance, is quite little for a population that is characterised by age related and chronic diseases, and therefore, spends quite a lot on medical care.

At the same time, a large population of the elderly is living in the rural areas and so, having adequate access to many prevention as well as treatment services. Our health facilities are also not really providing elderly friendly services, particularly, health workers. Some health workers are absolutely rude and unethical; forcing tests, not giving privacy, giving wrong information or failing to give information all together. At the same time, others are wonderful and that makes the entire difference.

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