HomeLIFENew Ideas On Making Life Comfortable For Older Family Members

New Ideas On Making Life Comfortable For Older Family Members

According to a study commissioned by the United Nations dubbed, “Data collection methodology and tools for supporting the formulation of evidence-based policies in response to the challenge of population ageing in Kenya”, the proportion of older persons (age 60 years and above) in Kenya is currently estimated at 4.5%, and is projected to double to 9.5% by 2050. In the same time span, the absolute number of older Kenyans is predicted to more than quadruple from 2.1 million today to 9.2 million, the fourth second most rapid rise among East African Community countries, after Rwanda (UNPD, 2015).

Just like human life, a butterfly has different life stages: from egg, to larva, to pupa, to an adúlt butterfly. Each stage with different sets of needs and challenges. In the late sixties, seventies and eighties of human life little problems become more difficult and consuming. This is the stage at which people do not have any meaningful source of income (unless they have investments that are generating income). The income generated in the earlier years is either invested and is generating some income or it there isn’t any form of income.

Most senior citizens do not have insurance cover or if they do, they have been capped based on the insurance requirements or regulations of this stage of citizens. This is when the body has lived its more that 70 years and it is giving way to various ailments. This stage is characterized by lack of adequate mobility and some facilitation using some help, could either be a cane and advances into a wheel car and in some cases total immobility. This is where the family begins to really bleed financially as they cater for the needs of this generation.

The importance of advance planning is critical but this is not part of the norm in our culture. To cater for limited movement and or being totally immobilized is needful. Preparing our homes to become disability friendly; having nursing care that could be provided from the comfort of the home; providing adequate financial resources to take care of the inflated medical bills and nursing care is clearly sometime that can no longer be ignored.

It is important to ensure that the family is well prepared mentally as they live through this very emotionally and financially draining journey. Most African families are completely disintegrated and without a plan, these periods provide a taste of how unpreparedness can mess life. This is critical care that we cannot afford to ignore.

During this stage of their lives the older generation have empty nests, they are alone and lonely. They are older, weaker and unable to fend for themselves as well as they did in the past. They were previously employed or in business and their work places provided the much-needed social interactions with colleagues and clients. They have infrequent visits from their relatives and friends. They then become isolated, lonely and vulnerable. Based on where they are living, they become prey to anyone who would want to compromise them.

They still need the services required to live, they need electricity, water, food, security, healthcare as well as even access financial services. For this population to access these services, they may seek guidance from the people who are easily and readily available. They surrender their identification documents to enable them access the services like mobile money or even mobile banking. They surrender the documents for registration of basic services like electricity connection, water connection amongst others.

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The challenges of providing personal identification documents to a stranger is a big risk. The provision of services to senior citizens needs to be thought through well. They are vulnerable and the system may not recognize this vulnerability and the risks there are to exposing their personal information to someone just because they are available the service required is a basic service. As providers of services, the question as you craft your service offering should be, How can a senior citizen access this service better without compromising their personal data and information.

At this stage most people are not gainfully employed. They may receive the last and final biggest lumpsum payment for their pension. This is the stage where they will have to manage that pension properly to ensure that this is well utilized. They are already in a state of understanding that they may not manage to generate any more money. They are alone in a place where there are persons who are aware of their compromised state. There are reported cases where senior citizens are defrauded of all their pension funds by people who they are very close to.

Older Kenyans
There cases where senior citizens receive calls from con artists who direct them to provide PINs and other identification numbers.

These situations are way too many to ignore. The bank should propose mechanisms to secure these funds by, for example, introducing a call back to a trusted relative to ensure that funds are not withdrawn without proper checks and balances. The banks can also advice these people to have powers of attorney so that only trusted persons are able to operate these accounts or even have jóint accounts with a trusted relative.

Due to old age, the mental capacity of these individuals could be well compromised. They may not manage to think through issues and analyze situations as well as they did during their youthful days. They may not manage to reason well with people who may not be presenting genuine matters to them. There are reported cases where several senior citizens receive calls from con artists who direct them to provide PINs and other identification numbers. These leads to extòrtion of funds from their bank and mobile accounts.

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These population requires a lot of support to understand the operating environment at all times.  Most communication on how to deal with these kinds of calls is done through social media, social groups which these citizens may not have adequate access to. There should then be services provided to this group through home visits, community leaders, educating them through certified care givers or even trusted relatives to ensure that this information is understood.

At this age, there are care givers assigned to our senior citizens. They range from nùrse aides, house managers, drivers, gardeners amongst other critical service providers. These caregivers are in the lives of the senior citizens all day and they understand all their weak points and they understand how life happens on real time basis. There is an old adage that states that, you are as strong as your weakest link.  These care givers have total access to information and documentation that is personal. There are reported cases where care givers have taken away property or even finances from the people under their care. The question is, have we secured information and documentation of our senior citizens?

Senior citizens require protection and support during their old age so that they can manage to live good and meaning final years of their lives after working and supporting the nation during their youthful years. We need to challenge the status quo and provide specialized and professional services to the senior citizens of this country.

Caroline Gathii is an International Certified Risk Expert with FirstIdea Consulting Limited. Email: [email protected]

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