London Diary – Senior Citizens’ Lives an Important Agenda Here

Jal Paddy,

What will surprise any first-time visitor to the UK is the number of old people strolling about on the streets.

The UK and many of these bazungu countries are full of old people in the evening of their lives, and yet going nowhere. The majority of people live a fairly healthy lifestyle and when they get sick or in poor health, there is free available treatment and medication at their disposal. Many of this lot go on living for years on control medication that allows them a normal functioning lifestyle.

The country’s average lifespan is already standing at 80 years. And now a group of experts called The Longevity Science Panel are saying if people contnue minding their health like they do now and there is continued breakthrough in human medicine, this average would climb to 84 years. One in four Britons would hit the 100 mark.

For more perspective, the average lifespan of a Ugandan is about 53 years and the population is estimated at 34 million, with just 16 per cent being above 60 years old. I am afraid I can’t tell how many make it to 80 and over.

The current UK population is estimated at 64.1 million, of which 11.1 million are above 65 and up to three million aged more than 80. It is estimated that in a few years a cool 25 per cent of the British population will easily make 100. Such statistics is what keeps the government awake at night.

The department of Health says the cost of providing hospital and community health services for a person aged 85 years or more is very high. But they are bound by duty of care towards the population to do it. This duty also extends to seeing these ‘wazeis’ are provided hustle-free public travel on buses, trains and cabs with reserved seats and hearing support aid, same with ease of access to public buildings and services.

Meanwhile in the kyeyo communities, folks are grinning from ear to ear. Meeting the needs of this old and ageing population has for years provided many a nkuba kyeyo with steady employment and livelihood, right from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, dementia professionals to carers, cooks and domestic staff.

Bazungu are not too keen on the elderly health care service sector. They say the work is too depressing and yet the pay isn’t that good. Many would rather sit at home and get handouts from government than work in this field. In steps the nkuba kyeyo.

The country is dotted with special government and private care homes and day care centres where many of these elderly people are offered a 24-hour care and nursing service. It is too risky and meaningless for them to live on their own or usually they need 24-hour nursing attention which cannot be provided from their homes, whether they have relatives or not.

But even for those who have their people, the option of a care home with one’s peers, private living facilities, social activities and health care professionals on call at the flick of a button is a much wiser idea than having an unemployed cousin looking after you in a three-bedroom house.

More like a case of dumping jjajja in the village with a houseboy and only visiting on Christmas. Still, the jjajjas are a blessing to us all. They contribute immensely to family life and are great with the children and grandchildren.

Your friend,


Source : The Observer

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