Thoughts about our seniors

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The first of October is dedicated to our Senior Citizens in Mauritius. Both the Government and our Mauritian society do collaborate to enable our elders to get the right support and love. Our seniors had struggled hard in their youth, worked in very difficult situations and with poor remuneration. Thanks to their struggles, hardships and dedication, our country had made big strides in the economic fields leading to improved living conditions and notable infrastructural development. Our leaders are conscious about it and this is why the current government as well as previous ones have always shown special attention to them.

Actually, the Government extends a lot of facilities to our seniors: Free transport, specialized medical facilities, social aids and a host of exemptions. At the three big recreational centres of Belle Mare, Pointe aux Piments and Pointe aux Sables, our seniors are able to spend a two-day vacation where they can interact, have fun and make new acquaintances. All activities are heavily subsidized by the Government. The Ministry of Social Security allocates a luxurious bus, at each centre, for residents to visit an interesting place nearby. As usual, after dinner, the residents can participate in entertaining programs. During the folklore songs and dances, one can behold with great joy the hidden talents of our elders.  They can entertain their friends by their improvised dramas, mimicry, songs, pranks, or stories. The Ministry organizes talks on personal security, nutrition and yoga to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The home atmosphere for senior citizens must be pleasant and comforting. With old age, they are prone to physical weaknesses and illnesses.. They are people who had worked hard and had tried to the best of their abilities to bring up their children. It’s then the duty of their grown-up children to ensure their well-being. However, various circumstances make it difficult to care for ageing parents. Many of them have long working hours and undergo precious loss of time caused by traffic jams. The present trend of nuclear family system makes it hard to ensure proper care to old parents. Sometimes, attempts are made to employ care-givers to look after them, especially those grappling with severe illnesses.

Today, homes for the aged are mushrooming but it’s necessary that they entertain a good standard. Certain homes tailor their services according to the fees paid by the residents. The Authority should pay special attention to those that admit seniors from the low-income group and to give them additional financial help so that they can provide better care.

Many seniors who were self-employed never joined a contributory pension scheme. As a result, they depend solely on their old-age pension to survive. With the high cost of living, the only option is to take up part-time jobs in spite of poor physical conditions.

Senior citizens are grouped in small, regional organizations. With the help of the Ministry of Social Security, a wide range of activities is organized to entertain them and to guide them about their health. The Senior Citizen Council organizes nation-wide competitions on Quiz, Storytelling, Bhojpuri and Sega dances and indoor games. There is always high participation and amazing performances are noted. The MBC program “Eclats de Vie” presented by Mrs. Lalanne highlights the varied talents of our seniors as singers, dancers, artists, cooks, gardeners and craftspeople.  It is worth noting that there are many senior citizens who are attached to NGOs, where they are putting their long acquired expertise in different fields for the benefit of our population.

In spite of sensitizing programs from the media concerning respect and love for our seniors, a few unscrupulous employees of some institutions still treat our seniors unfairly. I do hope they will review their attitude and amend positively. Here I pay special tribute to the medical staffs of the Ministry of Health, who generally handle our seniors with respect and love. 
Since we expect respect and support from the younger generation, it behoves our seniors also to understand the latter, recognize their commitments and constraints and adjust wisely.

Sakaram Puddoo