EDITORIAL – Minister Bodden: Focusing attention on our elderly

“It’s the thought that counts.”

That’s the sort of thing Grandma says – and as usual, she’s right.

According to Grandma’s metric, the new Cayman Islands Older Persons Policy, recently released by Minister Osbourne Bodden, sends an important message to Cayman’s vulnerable elderly population: You have not been forgotten.

Right now, perhaps the most significant aspect of the 20-year policy is it represents an official acknowledgment of a grave societal illness that has been festering “out of sight” for decades, that is, the neglect of our country’s senior citizens.

This past spring, we at the Compass highlighted the plight of the elderly in the context of budgetary constraints being experienced by Cayman Islands Meals on Wheels, a charity that prepares and delivers hot, nutritious and free lunches to seniors across Grand Cayman. During that time, we sadly found ourselves describing some of the most dreadful living circumstances imaginable on this island, with some seniors relying on their Meals on Wheels volunteer as their sole source of regular human contact, while others, who are even less fortunate and have no access to Meals on Wheels, are forced to exist on a subsistence diet of crackers or even worse.

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We were pleased to report that, following the spotlight put on the issue, our lawmakers, notably including Minister Bodden and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, stepped up to the plate (so to speak) and approved a significant funding increase for Meals on Wheels services.

But a single charitable organization can only help to alleviate a narrow set of symptoms of what is a broad underlying condition. Far, far too many of Cayman’s elderly are alone, hungry and vulnerable to abuse.

Is this the best, as a society, that we can do for the generation that created and nurtured the modern Cayman through perspiration, tenacity and ingenuity?

Of course not. Accordingly, Minister Bodden and the architects of the Older Persons Policy have our praise and our support.

We agree with Minister Bodden when he asserts that an unfortunate cultural shift seems to have taken place in Cayman, resulting in less emphasis on respect and care for our seniors. As Minister Bodden says, population growth probably has a lot to do with it – more specifically, the explosion in size and activity that has metamorphized Cayman into a radically different place than it once was.

However, when Minister Bodden refers to “foreign influences,” we would temper and perhaps modify that comment. The “foreign influences” responsible for the growing neglect of Cayman’s elderly aren’t “foreigners” – i.e. the British, Americans, Jamaicans, Filipinos, Cubans or Hondurans; but “phenomena” – such as freedom of movement, materialism, instant global communication, substance abuse and, most consequentially, the breakdown of the nuclear family.

Normally, we would be critical of the time span of any government plan stretched out over a period of 20 years or more. But in regard to ensuring the dignified treatment of our elderly population, the problem is so entrenched that such a sustained effort is absolutely necessary.

Minister Bodden has done well to pick up the mantle on behalf of Cayman’s seniors. Whoever becomes his successors in future governments, it behooves them to carry on this noble cause.

What is at stake is nothing less than Cayman’s dignity – and its legacy.

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  1. Minister Bodden I do appreciate your attention being put to consideration of our elderly; however as I read the report I am trying to find “According to Grandma’s metric policy, what strategically is being put forward to comfort the Cayman elderly except the “Meals on Wheels”
    If that is all the support being offered to them, then there is nothing really; because, frankly speaking, concern with the Bodden Town District; the food supplied to the elderly is not nutritious. It has changed a little bit now, but almost the same menu. What I saw the elderly getting up here was Cow gut with rice and macaroni salad, cow foot, un cleaned curried or BBQ chicken with little gravy sprinkled. Some days with so so rice and beans or white rice. You need to get a person who cares about the elderly to oversee what is being prepared and the Cook definitely needs to change. The daily slush that they are getting is the menu from another country………….
    The elderly will only speak among themselves about this but that won’t let the public know that they are not getting nutritious food. The food should be prepared at a restaurant and then delivered to the elderly, not at someone’s home.
    HOME ALONE Many of the elderly, as you are already aware is Home Alone, and it is a shame that they cannot afford to have someone take care of them, give them medicine and a good bath, fresh drinking water and a back rub, instead of remaining in dirty peed pampers all day. Their children cannot stay home to do these things because they have to hustle to get money to support their own families.
    On referring to foreign influence and caring to modify your comment; my question is why. Speaking of dignity and Legacy my thoughts are, why should the elderly go out this way? We should try our very best to make them very happy in these years.

  2. Well if govt is subsidising helping out isnt there some checks and balances in place such as a Dietician or Dietary or Health Authority
    oversight or reporting to ensure poper food or diet servedup to these senior citizens?