‘Society must look after elderly people’

PHIRI CAWE

A Khayelitsha Catholic welfare organisation has encouraged men and women to get behind the nation’s senior citizens and support them in all their battles.

Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD) said while many saw senior citizens as people without problems, the truth was that they faced more challenges than we could imagine, noting that loneliness, stress and loss of memory were common causes of their problems.

This emerged during an awareness-raising workshop held in partnership with the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), on Tuesday April 19.

Centre manager Nosisana Solwandle urged seniors to regularly consult with social workers and other helpful individuals to address their problems.

She also called on residents to look out for the seniors in their communities. She said senior citizens were often left alone at their homes and were abused by either neighbours or their own children.

“We know that seniors carry a heavy burden. Most spend a lot of time alone with no one to talk to. This is where they are vulnerable to abuse. It is important that the community and the society look after them. That is why we have weekly programmes for them. We want them to socialise with each other, share their experiences, bad or good. Most importantly, we want them to be stress-free,” she said.

Ms Solwandle said it was painful to listen to seniors raising their concerns about scams which tricked them out of their pension grants.

She said the workshops they had with seniors advised them where to go for help and how to get away from abusive children and grandchildren.

“Some of them are very traumatised as they have high blood pressure and other diseases. We aim to bring some services closer to them whereby they will be visited by home-based carers to check their health status and bring them medication. We are avoiding the long queues that are at the local clinics,” she said.

She said at last week’s workshop, the focus had been on drugs and the challenges faced by society, while in the past they had had discussions on parenting skills and other related matters.

“We still have more to discuss and have given ourselves the task of helping them. On some days, they come here just to cook, have games and do gardening. We keep them active all the time. But we want them to be knowledgeable (too),” she said.

She urged government to take action against those who were fraudulently deducting money from seniors’ grants and thanked Sanca which had told the seniors about the different types of drugs people were using and explained what signs to look for if they suspected their children or grandchildren were using drugs.

Community developer and Sanca trainer Mnoneleli Ndlangalavu said senior citizens needed to know where to report their cases because many people did not know who to speak to about their children’s drug use.

“Hats off to the welfare organisation for the event. These mothers and fathers are often ill-treated. The truth is we have a serious drug problem in our neighbourhoods.

“This affects all of us, particularly elderly people. Their children and grandchildren often take their monies. There lies the problem,” he said.

Mr Dlangalavu made a plea to communities to work with them to fight the scourge of drugs.

CWD’s interventions primarily target vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Khayelitsha, Masiphumelele, Samora Machel, Tafelsig, Delft, Gugulethu, Atlantis, Philippi and Blikkiesdorp.