I attended this conference in Dominica (November 30-December 1), in my capacity as a director of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP).

The conclusions are clear and self-explanatory, and I include the official document here. Conclusions of the Caribbean Conference on Ageing, Elder Abuse and the Rights of Older Persons_Final.

As is often the case, the printed words barely reflect the emotions behind many of the points made. Many things struck me, as a slightly younger senior citizen. One was the reluctance of many politicians, who are themselves senior citizens, to stand squarely behind the concerns of, and policies to protect the rights of, older people. The average age of Jamaica’s current Cabinet is 60. That’s more than odd in my mind. Some participants noted how the elderly had become a strong and vocal political force in the UK in recent years. In that vein, it’s worth noting commentary about the Pensioners Manifesto in 2004 and a decade later how the issue of the political power of the older vote.

The obvious conclusion about the seeming indifference of older Caribbean politicians is that they are not suffering the same problems, notwithstanding the growing number of older voters. That seeming disconnection with the reality of a significant body of voters is not trivial. It’s also interesting if one believes that older people in households tend to have significant influence over others (younger people) in those households. Are politicians really just throwing away votes?

Another issue that does not get attention in the conclusion is the concerns about environmental change and the elderly. This is more than a little ironic given the recent experiences in Dominica after flooding caused by Tropical Storm Erika, and the many reports of how it had dislocated the lives of many elderly people and left many of them more vulnerable than before.

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