Let’s remember and revere our seniors
It’s hard to believe that 2021 has finally come to an end. This has been a very challenging year for our people, especially our vulnerable seniors.
During the holidays, many families celebrated with their senior relatives and friends, providing delicious food, gifts and fellowship. But let's not forget that our seniors need this connection not just in the holiday season, but also throughout the year. An unfortunate reality of this pandemic is that isolation and loneliness have plagued many of our elderly population.
While things are better than they were last year at this time, we are not yet out of the woods.
Rightfully so, our seniors are concerned about their future. They are concerned about their finances with the rising inflation in the United States resulting in a higher cost of living here in Bermuda. Many are nervous about their safety, the increasing cost of health insurance and long-term care. They are really concerned about the highly contagious Omicron variant and possibly being admitted to the hospital.
They are very concerned about ageing well, their health and their lives. This government is aware of all of these concerns and anxieties. And we are committed to creating more stability and support for our seniors.
To this end, a National Seniors Strategy is being developed to serve as the Government's blueprint for the regulation, financing and delivery of programmes and services for our seniors. It will address the challenges and opportunities to improve the health, social and financial landscape for our rapidly increasing ageing population. By 2039, approximately 33 per cent of our population will be over the age of 65.
In 2020, the Government created the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors with a view to ensuring that social policies and service are in place and accessible to protect, assist, inform and empower the most vulnerable within our community.
As the chairwoman of the Ageing Well Committee, I will continue to focus on the goal of Bermuda becoming “age friendly”' and for our ageing population to be considered when policies are developed.
As such, we have implemented a programme to help our seniors with home repairs and upgrades to assist with ageing in place and being able to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
We ushered in FutureCare to make healthcare more affordable, which now has increased prescription allowance by 50 per cent. Personal care allowances are provided to assist with the cost of care for seniors who want to remain at home or with their families. We have also reduced the cost of certain prescription medications.
There are various financial assistance programmes for seniors who qualify, which includes rent and long-term care. There are also health and wellness clinics specifically designed for seniors.
Additionally, this government provides financial support to private seniors organisations, clubs and programmes. Further, we are actively working on developing the Bermuda Health Plan that will ensure access to affordable universal healthcare for all.
Our goal is to ensure that our senior Bermudians remain productive, engaged, fulfilled and independent citizens for as long as possible. Throughout the year, we all must honour and revere the seniors in our lives. Spend quality time with them. Call them. Listen to them. Support them. Show your love.
These are very difficult times for some of our seniors and their families and many are struggling. We encourage you to reach out to your MP and also contact the Government and third-sector support services and programmes.
We will continue to be out in the community checking in on you. There is light at the end of this pandemic; however, during this journey we must shine some light by remembering and revering our seniors.
• Ianthia Simmons-Wade is a government backbencher and the MP for Warwick North East (Constituency 25)