Feature
Executive Director of the National Council for Senior Citizens, Cassandra Morrison.

Special focus is on Jamaica’s senior citizens during the month of September. Several activities have been organised by the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) under the theme ‘Recovering with Resilience’.

During a recent interview, Executive Director of the NCSC, Cassandra Morrison, told JIS News that the theme speaks to the character of our senior citizens.

“We are encouraging senior citizens in particular to bolster themselves and to focus on the strength they have within to get them through this pandemic period, and the public is encouraged to support them,” she said.

A series of activities have been planned for the 45th observation of the month for seniors. These include the launch of an intergenerational public-speaking competition, held on September 16.  This was a virtual competition between senior citizens and youth, who competed for a variety of prizes while undergoing several stages of debate and extemporaneous speaking.

World Alzheimer’s Day was celebrated Tuesday (September 21). The NCSC partnered with the Mona Aging and Wellness Centre and Alzheimer’s Jamaica to host an Alzheimer’s webinar. the participants were educated on how to care for senior citizens with dementia.

On Wednesday (September 22), senior citizens engaged in a virtual workout session, done in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Jamaica Moves.  This was to encourage physical activity among the seniors while they are at home adhering to the protocols to prevent COVID-19 infection.

The NCSC also partnered with the Mona Aging and Wellness Centre to conduct a vaccination drive-through blitz for families and caregivers of persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Outstanding activities for senior citizens will be undertaken during Senior Citizens’ Week, September 26 to October 1.

The Week will be launched on Sunday (September 26) at the National Church Service, Mandeville New Testament Church of God, 18 Knowles Road, Mandeville, starting at 10:30 a.m.  This will be streamed live on MLSS and the JIS’s social media platforms. National Grandparents’ Day will also be observed on the 26th.

Wednesday (September 29) is senior citizens Appreciation Day. Mrs. Morrison is encouraging corporate entities to make sure that their customer service to senior citizens is improved and to show their appreciation by facilitating them as they go about their daily activities.

On Thursday (September 30) the Council will stage a National Seniors Awards. “During this virtual event, we will recognise those senior citizens who have been outstanding in service during this period of 2020, along with volunteers and partners that have supported the NCSC in our work to care for senior citizens”, the Executive Director said.

Friday (October 1) will be the United Nations International Day for Older Persons, under the theme ‘Digital Equity for All Ages – Connect, Respect and Protect Older People in Digital technology’.

According to Mrs. Morrison, the Council will engage in various activities on social media to bring awareness to the importance of digital inclusion of older people.  “We will examine some of the stereotypes and prejudices and discrimination that is associated with senior citizens and digitisation, and we hope to engage the public so that this very important matter and the voice of seniors can be heard”, she said.

The objectives of Senior Citizens’ Month celebrations are, to enhance public awareness of the rapid ageing phenomenon through sensitisation and public education; promote healthy, active and productive ageing across all generational groups; recognise the spirit of volunteerism that has led to the sustainability of the Council; showcase the accomplishments and highlight programmes of the Council.

The celebrations also assert the role of research, training and capacity building towards improved services offered by the Council; strengthen the role of public-private Partnership to enhance the ageing agenda; demonstrate the value of older persons towards cultural preservation and transmission and national development; reposition the image of the NCSC.

The Council works in collaboration with local and international organisations and other stakeholders to effect the National Policy for Senior Citizens through programmes and initiatives on behalf of all persons 60 years and older.

Mrs. Morrison said, “The council will continue to provide services for senior citizens; we encourage them to engage with us through the various media by which they can reach us. The senior citizen toll-free line remains operational for the senior citizens to engage as a council. The numbers are 888-736-4677 or 876- 906-9277-8, or on social media @MLSSJamaica.

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