by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Age group 30-35 years is largest sector of Grenada’s total population
- Between 2015 and 2035, 22% of the Caribbean population will be aged 60 and over
- Steps must be taken to improve coverage and protection of senior population
2015 predictions made by the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) indicate that Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean are likely to face a rise in a number of persons aged 60 and over, while persons of working age will peak in the early 2020s, before falling.
Based on those predictions for the next 20 years, the ageing of the current generation is predicted to lead to a rapid increase in the number of older persons. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of persons aged 60 and over will increase from 1.1 million (13% of the population) to 2 million (22%) according to ECLAC.
This means that Grenada and the rest of the region will experience demographic transition, where societies move from having high fertility/high mortality rates to low fertility/low mortality rates as characterised by modern society.
In Grenada, although the youthful population continues to make up a large percentage of the general population, statistics from the Central Statistical Office over an 18-year period have shown a steady increase in the number of persons past the age of retirement.
For example, in 2018 the number of persons between 65-69 years stood at 3,712 while 11 years ago that figure stood at 2,274. The number of persons between 75-79 years was 2,303 while the number for persons between 85-89 years was 1,130. In 2008 the figures for the same age group were 1,996 and 709 respectively.
The Ministry of Social Development is exploring areas with regards to updating the policy on ageing, and is now conducting a situational analysis of the elderly to ensure that they are cared for. This move will be crucial pending the expected rise in the number of the elderly population starting in the next 20 years.
Last Monday, a consultation was held with stakeholders from the Ministry of Social Development, NGOs and organisations that work with the elderly to formulate plans and policy that should be included in Grenada’s Policy on Aging, which is yet to be adopted.
Dr Wendy Crawford-Daniel, a research sociologist and Sociologist Professor at SGU is leading that charge. She has so far noticed a number of deficiencies that exist which are cause for concern.
“There is just a lot of work to be done, whether it is in housing, in continued education with regards to security. So, we are looking at this from a human rights perspective. The very policy that we are speaking about, even that has not been adopted as a policy; it has been just a situation analysis that was done 10 years ago in 2009,” said Dr Crawford-Daniel.
It is the hope that in updating the policy on ageing, Grenada can address many plights faced by senior citizens. “So, it is our hope coming out of this we can have more consultations with stakeholders that are elderly from the communities, nursing homes, NGOs and other organisations and persons who work with the elderly to come together and really put together a comprehensive policy on ageing,” she said.
These consultations are expected to identify gaps in current policy, identify challenges in translating policy to action, analyse the challenges in providing services to the elderly and new areas of inclusion into the policy on ageing.
Dr Crawford-Daniel agrees that steps must be taken to improve the coverage and protection of the senior population who should be able to access primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare and social services needed to ensure that they are able to live with dignity and autonomy.
“Housing, disaster preparedness, and all of the areas are needed. The human rights of older adults, and a whole range of areas which are deficient as it stands now,” she said.
The most recent statistics on population demographics show that the age group 30-35 years makes up the largest sector of Grenada’s total population.