Published On: Sun, Mar 26th, 2023

The challenges of seniors

~ John A. Richardson on the challenges that being a senior brings ~

Mr. Editor,

Please allow me some space in your well read newspaper to share my observations with the general public, your readers.

One of the first things I remember from school was when it comes to math, there is an order of operations. Just like everything there is a sequence to doing and implementing things. We can choose to deviate from the order, we will always get results but those results will never be as good as when the proper sequence is followed. In other words consistency matters. Consistency is like discipline, it leads to destiny. Hercules did not become Hercules because he was naturally gifted but rather he chose virtue above vice. Where is the consistency in our government when good governance is at stake? The proper sequence is not adhered to which has led to many of us feeling left behind. One such group is the seniors.

Abraham Maslov was an American psychologist. He blessed mankind with a pyramid model, categorizing the various needs that humans have in life. The sequence of the needs are: Physiological needs, Safety needs, Social needs, the need for Self Esteem and the need for Self-Actualization. Once a man twice a child is a popular saying and in this instance it is very true. Seniors are faced once again in their later years with more challenges than in their years of becoming of age, due predominantly to age, fear, loss of good friends, being lied to, not knowing who to trust and accepting being placed out of your own home that you built, which induces a reality that they will never be returning to that space ever again.

Having indicated that there are new challenges, different challenges than when they were young, means that there is no previous experience to still their unrest. The physiological challenges becomes more challenging especially if due to illness certain foods are forbidden. Security needs, the need for housing, are the living quarters suitable, is the entire house accessible and functional. Are alarms installed especially for those living alone? Is there a neighborhood watch? What role does their dexterity play? The social aspects of their life is all but turned upside down through the loss of friends, not being technologically savvy, diminishing mobility, bad eyesight etc. all lead to seniors often time than not being very pessimistic. We can’t always tell what is going on in their heads but the following points are a clear indication of the severity being experienced by seniors.

  1. Health Care Cost. The older we become the more care we need. Health care cost increases and so does the other cost associated with getting old like, dental, medical, etc..
  2. Diseases like dementia, cataract, macular degeneration, rheumatisms and Alzheimer’s, heart issues, diabetes, etc., are common occurrences among seniors. These diseases impact our ability to function as we once could. We can add to this stress brought on by thinking of our impending death.
  3. Physical aging, the inability to move as quickly as we need to. Our eyes, our depth perception, is no longer what they were. Our bones are brittle, they brake faster. Fractures don’t mend like before. There is a constant fear of falling or misjudging distances. This fear is particularly so for those seniors living alone.
  4. Physical assistance. Going to the supermarket, paying GEBE bills, going to the doctor, a notary if need be, seeking advice, etc., becomes a thing of the past. The cleaning of your living quarters becomes more difficult with age and daily assistance is needed. I once heard an old man said that he was once down and out but none of his so-called love ones visited him. They would call for an update on his condition. He believed that no one visited him because they did not want to be confronted with finding him in a mess and having to clean him. This is an important aspect that makes seniors vulnerable. They are preyed on. Loneliness, immobility, desertion by family members, forces them to seek unhealthy relationships to which they normally wouldn’t have aspired in their good days.
  5. Financial Security. Inflation while living on a fixed income poses additional challenges and restrictions. One day a box of eggs cost 10 guilders. A few days later it is 12 guilders. This leads to a steady decline in purchasing power and hence the standard of living. In this context the importance of maximum prices for the food basket, is in order.

How does these challenges affect people and seniors in particular, psychologically, mentally and physically? It is often said that a society is known by the way it treats the weakest in its society. Yes it is true many seniors did not prepare or plan for their old age. The present then was important. The present today is of a different reality and severity. In this regard what about the principle of due care that government is responsible for? As a signatory to the charter on Human Rights, can government escape blame and thus renege on her moral, ethical and constitutional responsibility to take care of us?

A great part of the suffering that comes with old age are a given for all of us, but the man made suffering, lack of facilities, taxing of the seniors, generic medications, etc., is directly related to the way society in Sint Maarten is organized.

The focus of our society is to make as much money as possible for the investors. In that strategy being social diminishes the returns. How many companies and brand name Hotels operate here based on tax holidays?

Is it then strange that the poor and seniors are the ones that fall by the wayside? After all they are not contributing anymore, their fuel is spent. The investor’s only aim is to maximize their return. All mortgages and loans provided locally represent imported money which is here to make more money. Locally we don’t have a saving culture. Where government went wrong was when investors were invited, government neglected to put guard rails to safeguard and protect the citizens against social injustice. The mentality that was created through this neglect was one in which dog is eating dog. The politicians appear to be so insensitive to this meltdown. Added to this wheeling and dealing, the greed of our politicians, is an affront. Answer this question for yourself: How many politicians have been investigated, sentenced or are currently being investigated since 10-10-10?

The money stolen in whatever form or fashion is money that could have made the cost of living in Sint Maarten much lower and could have been used to make Country Sint Maarten a better place for all, even the investors. Corruption has led to life being unnecessarily harder for people through the design of the politicians. Of course, not all politicians were investigated, but they are equally guilty because they knew what was going on and did nothing to halt it.

Another aspect that worsens the situation locally is the immigration issues. This means that social services, etc., are constantly being overrun so the rights and entitlements of the legal residents are watered down. Telling a senior he does not qualify for social aid because he or she might have a small apartment rented is ultimately disrespectful. Call a cow a cow and a bull a bull, but be honest and tell the people that government is not willing to take care of the people. In this regard, CFT brings nothing of substance to the table. Their loyalty lies in The Netherlands. In Sint Maarten society is organized in a way that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The intention is to get rid of the poor and the marginalized so that Sint Maarten in time to come can be promoted as a playground for the rich. Senior abuse and poverty is by design in Sint Maarten.

John A. Richardson 


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