Seniors and government officials worshipped at the Antioch Baptist Church on Sunday. Photos courtesy the Antioch Baptist Church.

The leadership and staff of the Department of Social Services in St. Kitts joined scores of seniors in celebration of the Month of Older Persons, commemorated every year in October, beginning with a church service Sunday at the Antioch Baptist Church at Lime Kiln.

Senior Pastor Lincoln D. Connor highlighted the value of older persons in any society in a message entitled “Fruit Bearing in Old Age.” Ministry officials in attendance included Permanent Secretary, Janelle Lewis-Tafari, Deputy Director of Social Services, Mary Ann Wigley, social assistance officers, and home care officers.

Other activities that will be observed in St. Kitts during October include an appearance on the Oct. 9 “Working for You” programme, Boat Ride Along the Coastline Oct. 24, Staff Social Evening on Oct. 25, and another radio appearance Oct. 30.

Minister of State responsible for Social Services, the Honourable Wendy Phipps, noted various ministers of government will also visit the oldest persons in each community throughout the month.

“As St. Kitts and Nevis celebrates The Month of Older Persons we must consistently remember that our senior citizens matter. We must also remember that our people are now blessed with living longer than our ancestors did. We must ensure that senior citizens are properly cared for, and are given every opportunity to live their lives in a manner that maintains their dignity as human beings,” Minister Phipps said during a national address on Monday  to mark the Month of Older Persons 2019

“We are privileged today to enjoy all of the benefits of their investments of toil, self-sacrifice and advocacy for human development. We in St. Kitts and Nevis continue to be blessed by having more and more people live to the age of 100 and beyond.  Within the past few years, we have been equally blessed to have an increasing number of males become centenarians since women generally live longer than men. We thank God for these unmerited blessings,” the minister added.

The Month of Older Persons is being celebrated under the theme: “The Journey to Age Equality” with the hashtag “60+ Counts.” The theme was selected by the United Nations (UN) for the 2019 celebration of the International Day of Older Persons, which is observed annually on Oct. 1.

Caregivers of Senior Citizens Saluted During Address

Minister Phipps, used a national address to commemorate the 2019 Month of Older Persons in St. Kitts and Nevis to shine a light on the positive role being performed by caregivers around the Federation.

During the address on Sunday, Minister Phipps said that any recognition of senior citizens in society cannot be complete without giving due credit to persons who see to their health and wellbeing.

“Whether in a domestic or institutional setting, these caregivers can easily be taken for granted.  They consistently render care and attention to our seniors without counting the cost — even at the expense of their own health and the welfare of their families.  It is for this reason why the Federal Ministry of Health strongly advocates the imperative of caregivers taking proper care of themselves,” the minister said.

“All of these special persons, be they homecare officers, nurses, relatives or friends, will be of little help to the seniors for whose care they are responsible if they do not take care of themselves first.  As such, the Ministry reminds all caregivers of senior citizens that they should get adequate rest, practice eating a proper diet, have regular medical check-ups and schedule personal time for themselves. Doing otherwise could eventually result in failing health, and premature ageing and death if their own self-maintenance needs are unmet,” she added.

Words of commendation were also expressed for the staff within the Departments of Social Services on both St. Kitts and Nevis for their selfless service and dedication to the nation’s senior citizens.

“We pay tribute, in particular, to our Home Care Officers who continue to render at-home care to our seniors.  We also salute the staff of the Cardin Home in St. Kitts and Flamboyant Home in Nevis, along with the staff of the various private sector senior care facilities around the Federation,” Minister Phipps said. “Gratitude is also extended to the many churches and civic organisations whose membership consistently render meaningful support for the care of our senior citizens, be it in the institutional or domestic settings.”