The Government of Jamaica enacted a National Policy for Senior Citizens (NPSC) in 2018. To this end, the coordination of the policy falls under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS). Correspondingly, the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) administers the policy.
The purpose of the policy is to establish the Jamaica Government’s commitment to broaden the inclusion of senior citizens in nation-building. With that in mind, the establishment of the NPSC rests on the reality that Senior Citizens possess tremendous capacity and resources. As a result, they can make sustained and meaningful contributions to the economy.
Increasing Life Expectancy of Senior Citizens
By the same token, a 2019 World Population report produced by the United Nations highlighted that globally the life expectancy of people 65 years and older is increasing. In light of this, there has been growing recognition that the mortality risks, health status, type and level of activity, productivity and other socioeconomic characteristics of older persons effectively have changed significantly.
Correspondingly, the United Nations World Population Ageing 2019 Highlights reports that Jamaica’s population aged 65 and over totalled 263,000 in 2019. In fact, numbers suggest that the population will increase to 365,000 by the year 2030. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) projections, by 2050, senior citizens will account for about 22.0 per cent of the population.
Services for Senior Citizens
For that reason, the rollout of this policy is timely for addressing the expanding senior citizens population. The policy’s goal is “to meet the challenges of a growing, healthier and more active senior citizens population hence, ensuring that those in need are assisted, and protected from abuse and violence and enhance the self-reliance and functional independence of senior citizens and facilitate continued participation in their family and society” (Nat’l Policy for Senior Citizens, 1997, p. 1).
Accordingly, Senior Citizens should register with the NCSC to access some of the available services and benefits. Therefore, check out their website for details on the services. Below is a list of some of the services:
Senior Citizens Identification Card – National ID card issued only to senior citizens free of charge. Therefore, these cards are effectively used for accessing concessionary fares on JUTC/Metro buses and discounts at various businesses.
Computer Classes – Offered to senior citizens free of charge at the NCSC Secretariat and various Parish Libraries across the island.
Home Help – Nurse Aides and volunteers visit senior citizens and assist with health, personal and domestic needs.
Meals on Wheels (Nutrition Programme) – Based on needs/vulnerabilities, cooked meals are provided on weekdays and food packages on public holidays for the Corporate Area elderlies in shut-ins.
Skills Training and Retirement Planning Education
Exercise/Dance Class – Group member keep fit and happy.
Activities – Senior Citizens Sports; Intergenerational Debating Competitions; Domino Tournament; Cultural Days; Centenarians Registry; National Senior Spelling Bee Competition; National Senior Bible Quiz Competition; Senior Citizens Week; Art; Craft and Culinary Arts Competition; Recreational Activities
Added Tips for Support Services
Additionally, senior citizens can access the other useful services below:
The National Health Fund (NHF) Card programme provides healthcare subsidies to every person living in Jamaica to treat 17 chronic illnesses. Chronic Illnesses include Asthma & Subsidy for Spacers & Masks; Arthritis; Breast Cancer; Receptor Studies Test; Benign prostatic hyperplasia; Diabetes & Diabetes Programme; Epilepsy; Glaucoma; High Cholesterol; Hypertension; Ischaemic heart disease; Lupus; Major depression; Prostate cancer; Psychosis; Rheumatic fever/heart disease; Sickle cell and Vascular disease.
NIS Retirement Pension – Upon retirement, apply for this benefit.
Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) – A non-profit, non-denominational and non-political membership organization for persons 50 and over. Benefits include paid participation in a Comprehensive Group Health Plan or Major Medical Group Health Plan and General Insurance Partnership.
In conclusion, no matter the socioeconomic status of the senior citizen, correspondingly, there are suites of support service they can elect to participate in. To be sure, supportive planning with a caregiver is important to secure the best-suited options for the senior citizen.