‘Look out for the elderly’ - Appeal for protection of the ageing population most affected by COVID-19
Winston Peneng* will be 82 years old in September. On Thursday, the elderly man sat patiently in a pharmacy awaiting his hypertension medication as others around him navigated each other cautiously and in hospital surgical masks.
“I don’t look it, but I’m 81,” said the Harbour View, St Andrew, resident, smiling, who said that he lived alone and had no one at home to send to get his medicine.
“I come because it is me alone at home, but I mostly stay inside. I don’t come out most times, but I have to fill my prescription.”
Turning his gaze to the latest set of customers whose hands were being sprayed by masked attendants at the entrance to the downtown pharmacy, he said that he had been inside the pharmacy waiting for half an hour.
“I am a waiting man. It’s not long,” he said patiently.
Peneng is among the Jamaicans 75 years and older who Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week ordered to stay home for the next 14 days as the health system combats community transmission of the COVID-19 disease.
Jamaica’s first COVID-19 death was that of a 79-year-old man, who suffered underlying medical complications.
Last week, Holness warned that the Government would be very serious in enforcing its precautionary measures to contain the spread of the disease across Jamaica and to protect those most vulnerable to it even as the country now has 32 confirmed cases.
Some pharmacists, however, have questioned the practicality of the measures for poor elders and pensioners who live alone and must go outside to purchase food, medication, and other supplies.
It is also a worrying issue for Jean Lowrie-Chin, president of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), which represents hundreds of seniors locally. While in full support of the Government’s COVID-19 containment strategy, she is calling on their caregivers to be more active during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our elderly are churchgoers, so I think it was a good decision to limit gatherings, and they understand,” she said, adding that members within the CCRP have been sharing Bible verses and keeping each other’s spirits up on social-media platforms. Others are being called regularly.”
Lowrie-Chin beseeched, “I would like to appeal to family members and church colleagues, and so on, who are younger to try to fill the prescriptions for the elderly folks. The last place we want to see our elderly people is in the pharmacies.”
[* Name changed to protect identity]