Older adults make important contributions to society as family members, volunteers and active participants in the workforce.
The elderly are also known as the aged.
While most have good mental health, many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders or substance use problems as well as other health conditions such as diabetes, hearing loss, dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s and osteoarthritis.
Furthermore, as people age, they are more likely to experience several conditions at the same time.
Older people face special physical and mental health challenges which need to be recognized.
According to the 2010 population and housing census report, the concept elderly refers to a category of adults who have attained advanced ages, 60 years and above.
There is no legal definition of who an older person is in Ghana.
The United Nations uses 60 years to refer to the elderly.
Statistics from help age Ghana indicates that in Ghana, about 7% of the population is made up of people aged 60 years and above. Despite this figure, Ghana has no ageing policy.
Currently, the elderly who are 70 years and above pay 5 cedis for registration and renewal of NHIS cards in Ghana, however, those who are 60 and above but not yet 70 pay the normal fee every other individual pays.
Some major challenges confronting the aged are mental health and emotional well-being.
Statistics from help age Ghana indicates, approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder.
The contribution older women and men make to society as carers, advisers, mediators, mentors and breadwinners is invaluable.
But growing older is not without its problems. Older people’s social status rarely reflects their crucial contribution and they remain some of the poorest and most neglected people in the world.
Most old people are thrown out by their own children; they are forced to live by themselves. Some are left alone in the sunset years of their life.
Some older people are being abused by loved ones or someone they depend on to care for them. Some older persons are worried about their abandonment by government and family in their golden age.
They expressed how they have served and contributed their quota to the nation in their youthful age and catered for their family as well.
Most of them are also ignorant of the leap cash transfer for the elderly which the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty.
Some senior citizens have shared their experience of old age
They also expressed their feelings on how government has less focus and attention on the aged.
James N Tackie , a 71-year-old retired electrician shared his experience of being an old person. He wished government will treat the elderly fairly before they pass on since they served the nation with their strength.
He expressed his wish for the government to make the NHIS registration and renewal free for all old people instead of the 5 cedis fee pay by senior citizens who are 70 years and above
Helpage Ghana is a nongovernmental organization in Ghana that advocates and promotes better rights for older people.
HelpAge helps older people to claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secured, active and healthy lives
Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey, executive director of HelpAge Ghana wants the national aged bill validated to improve the well-being of older people and the protection of their rights since issues of ageing is universal.
Unfortunately majority of Ghanaians die before they get to 70 and tend not to benefit at all.
He indicated that the process of developing a national ageing policy started in 1997 and was eventually approved in October 2010 and launched in December 2011.
Approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder due to certain treatment they are given by care takers
He advised that relatives should desist from abandoning their old parents at aged homes without checking on them.
Lebaratu Commey, a 75 year old retired bus conductress has worked for 30 years and has been on retirement for 26 years. She says she is entitled to 100 cedis monthly as her pension benefit.
Due to the insufficient money she gets as benefit, she has resorted into petty trading when she’s supposed to be resting at her old age.
Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey again prompted that the issue of ageing should not be politicized
He further urged that more specialists are trained in the area of gerontology [is the study of the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging]
Chief executive officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, is worried attention given to the aged is inadequate.
He suggested the establishment of old people’s home to cater for the needs of the elderly in society.
James N Tackie also advised relatives to desist from abandoning their old parents at aged homes without checking on them.
When it comes to living arrangements of the elderly, most of them don’t receive care and support from some extended family members.
Lebaratu Commey therefore called on individual who are of the habit of dumping their old parents at home and accusing them of witchcraft to stop.
Ernestina Mensah, a 74 year old retiree of omnibus service authority suffers from dementia and diabetes.
She says her grandchildren assists her to the hospital because she is old and can’t go on her own or by herself. She also believes there is the need to get doctors to take care of the elderly.
James N Tackie says it’s a blessing to be old and he is happy to be alive.
He urged all to instill discipline in upcoming and growing children to give respect to the elderly accordingly.
Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey advised that the elderly should be consulted before making certain provisions for them since they can best tell their needs and wants.
Improving the opportunity of the elderly to have access to improved sanitation, sustained economic status, owning houses should be areas of priority.
Also policy initiatives should include investing in the youth and adults today so that when they become the elderly in future their well-being will be assured.
By Nana Boatemaah Hansen |firstname.lastname@example.org|Ghana