The week of September 28 to October 3 is Older Persons Week. About 7 percent of the Belizean population is above the age of 60, but many still work and are active in the community at all levels. Under the theme “Sustainability and Age: Inclusiveness in the Urban Community,” Helpage Belize is drawing attention to the plight of older persons with a number of activities. Today in Belize City a group of senior women led by Myrna Manzanares passed a pleasant afternoon recounting stories of their youth and middle age. Executive Director of Helpage, Ivorine Bulwer, tells us more.
Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director Helpage: I think that it’s important to look through the lifecycle. Healthy aging starts and at the same time they grow older. Yes you are getting older but you are still entitled as part of your right to lead a healthy lifestyle. We are looking at the contribution that our older persons, recognizing them for the contributions that they have made to the economy and the importance that our older persons should be cared for. There must be a policy and there must be programs to facilitate them socially, economically and health. All these areas require improvement. Helpage yes we may be out there but what percentage of the older persons are we serving? It is not enough.
Bulwer says older persons can still contribute actively to the society and economy, as shown in the exhibited art pieces on display at the center.
Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director Helpage: it is an interactive session because there will be sharing their experiences and history. And talking about growing up and the fun time that they had and sharing their fun. They are still having fun because quite a number of these ladies and senioragers. They are very active. We have as old as 94 coming to our activities in Belize City. For example in Corozal we have a lady that is 98. She goes to that activity and is quite alert. It is great because what happens is the ability, their thought process, that cognative level is still working, the manual dexterity they can still do things with their hands. Their memory, their vision, they can still do things. If you look at those art pieces you can see that they are flawless. They are quite creative. So they are sending a message that yes they have reached the age of 60 but they need to be a part of this economy. This can be a part of their income. They retire at 55 but they still can earn an income.
Other planned activities in Belize City include taking turkey dinner meals to shut-ins on the International Day of Older Persons on Thursday, October 1, and a day of pampering at the main office on Friday with free manicures and pedicures. In other areas of the country, there will be such events as a seenagers’ pageant in Seine Bight, a walkathon in San Ignacio at the Octavia Waight Center, and many other activities.