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Minister highlights help available for seniors

It takes a village: Tinee Furbert, the minister of social development and seniors. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

More than 1,000 seniors are receiving financial assistance, according to Government figures.

Tinee Furbert, the minister of social development and seniors, yesterday said that 1,037 seniors were currently received aid from the Department of Financial Assistance, along with 786 people with disabilities.

According to the latest figures, there are approximately 9,400 people over the age of 65 in Bermuda.

Ms Furbert said the money helped pay for rent, nursing and rest home fees, food, health expenses, personal home care, medical equipment, and fuel bills.

Ms Furbert did not reveal how much in total was paid out to seniors.

But she did say that Government had allocated more than $1.3 million this financial year in grants to organisations such as Age Concern, as well as a number of seniors’ homes.

She also highlighted an interest-free loan scheme in which homeowners could borrow up to $15,000 to upgrade their properties to make them more suitable for the elderly.

Ms Furbert said that Government was devising a national seniors strategy “that focuses on supporting Bermuda’s seniors while enabling them to age well, with dignity and respect”.

She said: “We strongly believe that the first choice of accommodation for seniors should naturally be their home. In their own residence, they will be familiar with the setting and will also be surrounded by family and loved ones.”

“However, we recognise there are a number of factors that can make this difficult for some.

“There may be a need for a caregiver in the home for a senior who has more complex healthcare needs and who resides with their children who may work outside the home. The expense of a caregiver can be a barrier to returning a senior home after a hospital stay.

“Sadly, many seniors’ residences have environmental factors that limit their ability to age safely and comfortably at home. Factors such as stairs, lack of railings, ramps, proper lighting, doorways not being wide enough, or lack of essential equipment are often causes for families to place their loved ones in long-term care facilities.”

Ms Furbert also said that there was a need for training and support for families of seniors who had been discharged from hospital.

“This training and support should be initiated in the hospital and continue after discharge,” she said.

“It will help families to be better prepared to cope with caring for their loved ones at home. Understandably, it can be a nerve-racking experience to not fully understand a diagnosis or changes in physical and mental health status.

“Families need support until there is an established comfort level to adequately care for their loved ones, but that will only come with opportunities for communication and training along with family members being willing to participate in these initiatives.”

“Although the long-term care regulations for seniors falls under the remit of the Ministry of Health, long-term care for Bermuda’s seniors is not only a government matter, it is a country matter. Thus, it is crucial that the private and public sector continue to work together to meet the needs of our seniors.”

An online database of services in Bermuda can be found at www.helpingservices.bm.

Details of long-term care education and training programmes are available at www.gov.bm/long-term-care-education-and-training.

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Published August 10, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated August 10, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Minister highlights help available for seniors

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