Editorial 30Enact the Age Law to address old-age challenges

Issues concerning the aged are matters of great concern.

Therefore the whole nation should take seriously the call byHelpAge Ghana, a non-governmental organization (NGO), onthe government to fulfil its promises of improving the quality of life of the elderly persons in the country, by ensuring the enactment of the Age Bill into law.

According to the NGO, elderly persons in Ghana continue to face many challenges, which include inadequate healthcare, and income insecurity, which most often culminates into poverty and deprivation,hence the urgent need for Parliament to pass the bill into law to help address these challenges.

It says there is a National Ageing Policy which took almost 14 years to be approved by Cabinet in 2010 and an Age Bill was listed on the Agenda of Parliament on January 29, 2019 for consideration.

It explains that the law will legally define who an older person is, promote and protect specified rights of older persons and also establisha National Council for the Aged, which, among other functions, will develop national interventions as well as coordinate actions under the National Ageing Policy to improve the quality of life of older persons.

HelpAgeGhana has an issue that must be supported even more by young people because they would grow old one day, all things being equal.

In fact, when it comes to issues of the aged and ageing, the United Nations (UN) encourages the young to give active support to such issues with a Swedish adage:“Honor the elderly, never mock them. They were once like you and you will become like them.”

To this end, the Ghanaian Times appeals to all the young Members of Parliament, especially the vociferous ones, to push for the enactment of the Age Bill into law.

For HelpAgeGhana to resurrect the matter on the eve of International Day for Older Persons, observed globally and annually on October 1 is very significant because the day seeks to recognize and appreciate the varied contributions the elderly have  made to the growth and development of society.

More importantly, the day is to raise awareness of the special health needs of older persons and of their contributions to their own health and to the functioning of the societies in which they live.

In fact, even when it comes to who an old person is, it varies from country to country based on certain factors.

The UN defines an older person as one who is over 60 years of age but the United States pegs old age at 65.

The UN seems to accept conditions in developing countries for its thresholdbecause it is said that since life expectancy is lower and the age of retirement is 60 years in such countries, the elderly are considered as persons aged 60.

Another view is that families and communities often use other socio-cultural referents to define age, including family status (grandparents), physical appearance, or age-related health conditions.

Even though Ghana seems to have adopted the 60 years’ threshold,in the face of these perspectives, the enactment of the Age Law can legalise and actualise that threshold to erase old-age controversies in the country.

Under the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, for instance, among other factors, the qualifying old age is 65 years and above.

No doubt, HelpAgeGhana has raised an issue of national concern and so let the whole give it support to get the Age Law enacted because it has the prospects of reducing the challenges of old age such as lack of the means to secure good healthcare, hunger and deprivation, homelessness and extreme poverty.

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