As part of Caribbean Wellness Day, set for Saturday, 14 Sept., next week Health Services Authority staff will be visiting the private homes of senior citizens across Grand Cayman to offer free nutritional assessments, health screening and counselling.
This year’s event, themed ‘Healthy Ageing Starts Now’, is aimed at increasing awareness and promoting activities to address non-communicable diseases. The focus will be on healthy lifestyle practices that can help to prevent or delay people’s chances of developing non-communicable diseases and maintain well-being as they age.
Community dietitian Kousalya Rozario explained the main goal for this year’s activities is to provide outreach and support to seniors, including those who are bedridden, and identify those who may be living with non-communicable diseases. “Through the free nutritional screenings, we hope to encourage older persons to practise healthy lifestyle habits that will reduce their chances of developing heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, arthritis and other diseases commonly associated with older age. We also want them to feel empowered and supported to lead dignified lives,” she said.
Private home visits will take place on 16‑20 Sept. The nutritional and health screenings will include cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure tests.
The World Health Organization defines older persons as people over 60 years of age, though in Cayman they are considered over 65 years old. The Caribbean Public Health Agency states that in many Caribbean countries, older adults make-up one of the fastest-growing groups.
According to Economics and Statistics Office data from 2015, there were an estimated 5,832 older people out of a total Cayman Islands population of 60,413. Today, a person born in the Caribbean can expect to live 15‑20 years longer than his/her grandparent, if that person does not develop non-communicable diseases.
“Statistics show that NCDs, which include heart diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, account for nearly half of all deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of three deaths overall,” Dr. Joy St. John, executive director of CARPHA, said.
“The costs associated with these diseases are not always manageable for governments, employers, and families. Healthy ageing is about maintaining the ability that allows you to do the things that are of importance to you. It is a key strategy for sustainable development and decreasing future health costs for you and your loved ones,” she added.