We know it’s there, but we choose to shy away from engaging on this topic as it’s hard, uncomfortable and makes us question who we are as people – the subject of the care of elderly disabled people in South Africa. The month of May is the month of the elderly, how are we honouring them?
Everyone gets old; problems due to age will affect all of us: Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Brittle Bones, age-related-cancer(s), Incontinence, Confusion/Memory Loss, Bone disease, Tooth loss and Depression are just a handful of the many afflictions YOU could get as you age.
Disabled people are even more disadvantaged due to either a mental or physical handicap, when one factors in that the disabled are also generally much poorer than the average person, a problem becomes self-evident;
In a country where poverty is endemic, the resources to care for these people are not available or squandered elsewhere, leaving a terrible burden both emotionally and economically on the families and communities of those disabled elderly persons as well as the disabled people themselves.
A mechanism needs to be developed whereby funds are saved over time to care for these people in the future. Granted this will be very difficult, most people just do not have the financial means to save for their own old age, let alone a relative who is disabled. However, until something is done by civil society and/or government, this scourge will continue to avail our population.
It should be noted that many elderly are disabled due to issues of age, whilst others were born with disabilities that afflict them their whole life.
Caring for those with lifelong disabilities is even more taxing to all involved.
We owe it to our families, friends and other loved ones to ensure they age in dignity, no one (disabled or not) should be homeless or struggling through their twilight years. Collectively as a country and as individuals, we need to address this important issue.
I welcome any dialogue with you or your organisation should you wish to be part of working towards a solution or a better way to plan for the future and care of the differently-abled in our civil society.
Hannl Cronje – CEO – Orion Organisation NPC / [email protected]
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