Free home visits to older people for Caribbean Wellness Day
Dr Joy St John
Saturday marks Caribbean Wellness day - and Cayman is celebrating in a very special way.
The day is geared at increasing awareness and promoting activities to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the region.
And the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) will be marking it by taking free nutritional assessment, consultation, health screening and counselling into the private homes of older persons across Grand Cayman this month.
With the slogan, Healthy Ageing Starts Now, Caribbean Wellness Day 2019 focuses on healthy lifestyle practices that can help to prevent or delay people’s chances of developing NCDs and help them maintain a healthy wellbeing as they age.
The World Health Organization defines older persons as people over 60, while in Cayman older persons are people over 65 years of age.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) states that in many Caribbean countries, older adults make up one of the fastest growing groups. Statistical data from the Economics and Statistics Office (2015) shows that of the Cayman Islands population of 60,413, there is an estimated 5,832 older persons living on the islands - with 3,687 persons living in households having persons 60 years old and over.
Today, a person born in the Caribbean can expect to live 15-20 years longer than his/her grandparent, if that person does not develop NCDs.
“Statistics show that NCDs, which include heart diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, account for nearly half of all deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of three deaths overall,” said Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr Joy St John.
“The costs associated with these diseases are not always manageable for governments, employers, and families. Healthy ageing is about maintaining the ability that allows you to do the things that are of importance to you. It is a key strategy for sustainable development and decreasing future health costs for you and your loved ones.”
Community Dietitian, Kousalya Rozario added: “A major part our activities this year is to focus on older persons, including those who are bedridden, by providing outreach and support to them and identifying those who may be living with NCDs.
"Through the free nutritional screenings, we hope to encourage older persons to practice healthy lifestyle habits that will reduce their chances of developing heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, arthritis and other diseases commonly associated with older age. We also want them to feel empowered and supported to lead dignified lives.”
Private homes will be visited from September 16-20. The nutritional and health screenings will include cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure tests.
The HSA and Public Health Department offers free health screenings to the public for various health observances throughout the year. To find out when a free health screening is being held, visit www.hsa.ky or the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority Facebook page.