Speech - Dr Carmelo Cassar (UK)

Dr Carmelo Cassar is a retired General Practitioner in the medical field. He provided information based on the UK statistics, which refer to the general senior population who are listed as one-person households. Almost one half of these are aged 75 years and two thirds are females.

The Age Concern movement in the UK operates as an umbrella for over 100 National Organisations all of which are in someway concerned with Health and Social Care for the elderly. The concept of care for the aged entices many to contend that the Government ought to take direct action to meet all their needs as senior citizens. They want, whenever possible, to remain in their homes and receive the support and the services they need.

Growing old is not a disease, but changes happen to us all, as we grow older. Physical and mental problems develop progressively, and nowadays many conditions can be treated easily and successfully. The elderly are learning how to help themselves, but there are also professionals who can give adequate advice and care for them. All General Practitioners are required to offer an annual health checks to their patients aged 75 years and over. Local pharmacists can give advice on minor health problems, and people over 60 get their prescriptions free of charge. Subsidies are available to costs in dental care and sight tests including eyeglasses.

The main bodies set up to tackle ageing problems are: Age Concern, Help the Aged, Council and Care for the Elderly, United Kingdom Home Care Association, Alzheimer Disease Society, the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council, and Motability. The Department of Social Services has the overall responsibility of meeting the needs of the elderly in all aspects of their lives. Problems are not lacking either especially for those with an adequate income and housing, or lack of transport and shopping or leisure facilities. Many are left housebound and isolated, often reducing them to depression and becoming vulnerable to negative attitudes and even physical harm. Age Concern endeavours to solve many of these problems, mainly by enabling old people to solve problems themselves. Day Centres, Lunch Clubs, Home Visits and Transport Services are made available through contractual agreements with local governments. At national level, lasting change and improvement are sought through provision of information and advice, research, training and grants. Added to these are the setting up of Residential and Nursing Homes, House Adaptation (mostly for invalids), Equipment for Daily Living, Alarm Systems, Home Help, Respite Care, and Hospital-At-Home.

To the question of how can Malta help in this respect, the speaker concluded that the elderly in the UK are given access to all governmental or organisational facilities for the aged, and in this respect even the Maltese elderly are able to benefit from these provisions. From the statistics provided in 1996 on Elderly People by the Department Of Social, Community and Family Affairs, there is no mention of any particular ethnic community in the United Kingdom that has been surveyed separately from the overall population covered by these statistics.

Source: 'Malta' - Maltese Culture Movement, Issues 4,5,6, 2000.

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