Health minister says law to protect the elderly in the works

Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph. (Photo by Makeida Antonio)

Government will be introducing legislation in 2017 to address abuse of the elderly in Antigua & Barbuda. Speaking at Wednesday’s Cabinet Report, Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said he would be introducing the Prevention of Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment Act (PANAA) in response to reports that elderly residents were being abandoned or taken advantage of by members of their family.

“There is pervasive abuse, neglect, and abandonment of our elderly,” Joseph said. The Act would specifically target the fraudulent use of Social Security benefits by persons other than beneficiaries, and the abandonment of the elderly by their families, Joseph said.

“Some of these elderly folks, who receive Social Security, their funds are taken away from them by some members of their family, used for purposes other than the care of the elderly, and they are abandoned in some cases,” the minister declared.

While not frequent, there have been a few incidents of such theft at St John Hospice, according to Agnes Meeker, founder of St John Hospice, said.

“There was one case of that, yes. We never did get any reimbursement,” Meeker said. “That’s why we’re a charity, because we sometimes tend to pick up the cost. No one is turned away.”

President of the Pensioners’ Association Charles ‘Eddie’ Hunte said while the issue of familial abuse is a serious one for the elderly, some are also reporting that they are finding themselves no longer eligible for some benefits.

More in today’s Daily Observer.