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Elderly people engage in a health dialogue

Elderly people were informed about the programmes aimed at improving their health.

Kwa-Thema – The Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) along with South Africa Partners hosted the 50Plus Imbizo – Aging with Dignity and Health Jamboree at Holiness Church on June 7.

The event was to advocate for the improvement of programmes for people who are ageing with HIV and comorbidities and to provide a platform for dialogue for elderly people from the age of 50 and older.

“We want to develop psychosocial support structures but also assist government in providing comprehensive care for the old folks.

“The gist of the dialogue is to inform the elderly about the available services around Kwa-Thema and how can we best enhance these services that are aimed at the ageing population,” SA Partners member and project manager of the event,” Paddy Nhlapho said.

The event’s project manager, Paddy Nhlapho said the community has lack of information about the programmes that are available to them.

According to Nhlapho, their main goal is to work with government through existing policies and structures to enhance programmes.

“The tendency is always to point fingers and to blame government and we become armchair critics,” added Nhlapho.

He continued to point out that elderly people living with HIV are often forgotten in society.

“We want people to stand up and start to advocate for the elderly to age with dignity and value.

“People that have been living with HIV long term are now forgotten because the focus of most programmes is on adolescent girls and boys.

“Elderly people living with HIV exist and they need programmes that are tailored to their specific needs.
“Programmes that address their mental health challenges, their comorbidity and socio-economic challenges,” he said.

Elderly people raised issues such as feeling isolated, neglected and overlooked because of their age.

“Some of them are dealing with children who are drug addicts, unemployed or depressed. That depression then passes on to them.

“We intentionally held this event on this day as a way to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which is observed annually on June 15,” Nhlapho added.

He encouraged the community to take care of elderly people. He said the community lacks information about the facilities that are aimed at helping seniors.

The elderly raised concerns about their local health systems.

The elderly people were screened for body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure and other health issues.

They raised concern over the service they are given at local clinics.

“Sometimes when we go for checkups, they don’t even evaluate you. They just give you medication without a thorough consultation,” Sylvia Motsopa said.

“The health professionals have to be more patient with us, we are at an age where we are forgetful. We are grateful for this event because they brought awareness to the issues we deal with,” added Pinky Mape.

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