Approximately 31.8 per cent of households today have at least one member who is 60 years or older. According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), elderly people in Jamaica make up nine per cent of the population and that total is expected to grow to 17 per cent by 2030.
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is keen on ensuring that our senior citizens live in a society that guarantees their rights and facilitates their health and security. The GOJ, therefore, provides a host of support services for Jamaica’s elderly population.
National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC)
Senior citizens can access support through the NCSC, a department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS). The NCSC provides in-home help through nurse aides and volunteers who assist with health, personal and domestic needs. Another service offered is a feeding programme, through which the NCSC delivers cooked meals and food packages to elderly shut-ins living in the Corporate Area. The council also issues senior citizen identification cards, which can be used to access discounts on various goods and services. To apply for a card, applicants should provide the council with the following:
1. Driver’s licence and passport-sized photo or
2. Passport and passport-sized photo or
3. Birth certificate and passport-sized photo certified by a Justice of the Peace (stamped and not sealed)
Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP)
The National Health Fund (NHF), an agency of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), provides payment subsidies for essential drugs for several chronic illnesses through the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP). The programme is open to Jamaicans over the age of 60. To benefit from this provision, applicants should take their tax registration number (TRN) card and a JADEP application form, completed by a physician, to the NHF office. The form should indicate the applicant’s illness(es).
Other Support Channels
It is advisable that elderly persons and their families make decisions together about the options for care to allow them to choose the best one for the individual’s needs. Discussions should take into account the provision of necessary specialised care as well as living arrangements.
Golden Age Home – The Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s (MLSS) Golden Age Home provides senior living services – which include physical care, medical care and occupational therapy. Families may also use private home care facilities.
Mental Health Support – The difficult and inevitable changes that come with getting older may also take a toll on the mental well-being of a previously healthy and independent individual and his or her family members. The MOHW’s Mental Health Unit provides a range of treatment services that can help with these challenges. Persons may call the Ministry’s mental health helpline or visit a public clinic to receive treatment. An islandwide mental health clinic schedule is available on the Ministry’s website.
Dealing with Illnesses
Several illnesses, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease often accompany advanced age. Family members caring for elderly persons who are ill may find it useful to learn as much as possible about the particular illness. Additionally, they can learn about how it will progress and what to expect at each stage.
For further information, contact:
National Council for Senior Citizens
Ministry of Health and Wellness
10-16 Grenada Way
Mental health helpline: 888-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)
Mental Health Clinic Schedules: https://www.moh.gov.jm/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/MOH-Mental-Health-Clinic-Schedules.pdf