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SECRETARY-GENERAL


the welfare of retired and old people is to place them in residential homes. This practice has been necessitated by the high mobility of family members uprooting from their homes, usually due to employment requirements. More often than not, grown children on reaching employment age, move out of the family home to take up opportunities in separate and sometimes distant towns and cities, depriving their ageing parents of routine attention. Even when residing in the same home, young people have tight work schedules to adhere to, forcing them to spend more time away from their ageing parents. The practice of residential homes has recently come to public attention and has been subject to serious scrutiny in light of reports of the mistreatment of patients. Problems of seclusion and loneliness, poor quality healthcare and sometimes incidents of


abusive treatment


in residential homes, have led several policy makers to rethink the options for handling the elderly. There are those who are proposing to return to the traditional ways, as is still the case in Asia and Africa, where the extended family system continues to play a positive role for the elderly. There are others, however, who advocate for the need to simply improve the social welfare system; that is, to


ensure that the standards and intervention practices for the elderly are upheld by law. In this case, I am glad to note that the British government has called for a public debate on the attitudes towards the elderly, with primary observations being made that, more often than not, the ageing population is being isolated and ignored.


Furthermore, the British Government’s policy and practice of offering retired and elderly people transportation freedom passes to enable their mobility is highly commendable. I believe that this policy has enabled thousands of older people to travel freely and be part of the larger society. Free transportation has also helped facilitate travel needs for retired people who give services through charities, as well as to be self-reliant.


Discussions surrounding best practice in caring for the ageing population featured at the 59th parliamentary conference in South Africa.


The situation of the elderly in developing Asian and African Commonwealth countries is, as


expected, still significantly different from that of Europe and similar western societies. As stated before, Asian and African societies currently maintain family structures of living with the elderly. There are unconfirmed suggestions that, apart from health conditions, the elderly tend to live longer when surrounded by family members, as they are often surrounded and entertained by grandchildren,


Commonwealth gallery


Pictured with the President of the Senate, of Lesotho, Hon. Chief Letapata Makhaola, (left) and the Speaker of the Parliament of Lesotho, Rt Hon. Sephiri Motanyane (right).


VIEW FROM THE


Greeting the Speaker of the Parliament of Kenya, Hon. Speaker Justin Muturi, MP (left).


The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three | 171


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