Minister: Laws to stop elder abuse coming

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Minister Willmoth Daniel said that the Ministry of Social Transformation is taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to the financial abuse of the nation’s elders and new legislation is in the pipeline.

“We are in the process of drafting a document for Cabinet’s approval to at least, in the first instance, manage the financial benefits of persons living in institutions in Antigua & Barbuda,” Daniel said in a press release yesterday.

He added, “For too long, relatives and caregivers are signing for these cheques and (utilising) them for different purposes.”

According to the document, the minister will seek to circumvent the misuse of seniors’ funds by intervening in the collection process – starting with elders housed in government-owned facilities.

Daniel is recommending that benefits for institutionalised persons be transferred to the “respective government agencies” to assist with the care of beneficiaries.

“It is appalling that these cheques are signed for by persons every month and the beneficiaries do not get a penny from it and the state is left with the care burden of the elderly,” the minister noted.

Daniel admonished this practice noting that government is left to foot all expenses for the elderly when their monies are siphoned.

“Most times, these caregivers spent the moneys foolishly to fix hair and nails, while the elderly who have worked hard and should be enjoying their golden years are left to languish at the mercy of the state. This practice must be stopped; once and for all,” Daniel noted.

The Ministry of Social Transformation is using the occasion of International Day Against Elder Abuse today to highlight the issue of abuse of the elderly. Antiguans & Barbudans are asked to wear an item of yellow in solidarity against elder abuse.

To report incidences of elder abuse, contact the Citizen’s Welfare Division’s GRACE programmme at 562-7360.

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