Group protests against abuse of the elderly
“Sometimes they are the most lonely people”
Members and allies of the Sector Task Team for Older Persons (STTOP) held a demonstration yesterday outside Parliament to raise awareness of elder abuse in Cape Town. The gathering was organised to mark the International Week of Older Persons. About 15 people took part.
STTOP is calling for more volunteers and donations for elderly persons, especially for medical equipment, exercise classes, and social activities. “The Department of Health says it will provide wheelchairs, but each clinic has one per week,” said Valerie Heighway, 67.
“My friend was on a seven-year waiting list for a dental clinic.”
Heighway and her peers were joined by younger allies. Mkhululi Sithilanga, 24, said he joined the demonstration because “we don’t know if God is gonna keep us, ‘til what age.” Irraddy Chongwe, a social worker specialising in old age care, said the struggle of elder abuse in homes and institutions touched him deeply.
“Sometimes they are the most lonely people,” he said.
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I have been working with the elders of the former Transkei for two years. I went to the rural areas to work with the youth.
In my first few months, we were visited by elders from the region, they were between 80 - 106 years old. I had no idea of their struggle, their pain, their despondency. They need our support!
We provide massages and oils to deal with their "pain", something they have never experienced. It has been amazing to see what "touch" can do. It has been daunting to hear how they are struggling to bring up the next generation, 60 decades apart from their grandchildren. They worry about water, they are confused by drugs, they have the most incredible stories to tell - they are our SA libraries.
We are planning to set up a village on our land, to care for them, when there is nobody left to do so.
Please don't give up with your activism, our children and elders are the most vulnerable people in our society and both require love and nurturing.
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