Time we eradicated ageism, the silent discriminator among us


By WILKISTER WERE
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Ageism is discrimination or unfair treatment based on one’s age.

And ageism is everywhere and is said to be bigger and more pronounced than all the other discriminations combined.

There are many stereotypes against older people. The most common types of ageism include lack of access to palliative care, job sacks and harassment from doctors and other service providers.

How many geriatricians, for example, does the Kenyan government have to ensure older people are given the correct diagnosis?

Are there special queues or arrangements for the elderly in banking halls, public transport, supermarkets and other institutions frequented by the elderly?

Some clubs do not allow membership to persons past a particular age, same for insurance companies. How about excluding them from important decision-making forums?

Very few people are aware of the existence of the International Day of Older Persons, which falls on October 1 annually.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is, “The Journey to Age Equality”.

Despite this being a global event, most governments really have no idea of what it entails or how it should be celebrated.

I would want to know, for instance, how many county governments accommodate this day in their programmes.

The elderly continue to be the most discriminated group of people in our societies despite global agendas on ageing.

There is growing alarm over the well-being of older people, especially those living in rural areas.

Poverty, lack of basic health and social services and migration of young people to cities in search of jobs, leaving their ageing parents in the village, are endemic in rural areas, affecting millions of senior citizens.

The Constitution talks of the right to live in dignity and respect free from abuse.

The Bill of Rights protects the rights of the elderly. Ironically, this is the group that is least considered in any budget in this country.

The assumption is that the Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT) takes care of them.

The elderly are everywhere and in need of us in one way or another. As the world celebrates the International Day of Older Persons, today, let’s all try to make a difference in their lives.

You can make a difference by reaching out to a range of older persons, trying to find out how they feel about ageism and trying to make a difference in their lives in whichever way.

It’s high time we all embraced older persons as it is a process all the living must go through.

So far, there is no antidote for ageing. You can start anti-ageism campaigns by advocating the rights of the elderly. Say ‘No’ to ageism!


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