Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs

October 1st ……International Day For Older Persons
This year’s theme for the 24th commemoration of the International Day for Older Persons; October 1st , is “Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All”. On this occasion the Department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour will like to acknowledge and show our appreciation to our seniors who have indeed worked and toiled ensuring that the succeeding generations can live in a developed and progressive society, as the St.Maarten we know today. In addition, we recognize and thank all the various organizations who are currently working on behalf of the elderly either by championing their issues, assisting with meals, providing care and recreational activities to them.

This year’s theme is in keeping with the goals of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian which is promoting the general well-being of the society. By fulfilling this goal one of our responsibility is to ensure community work and community development in the various neighborhoods on St. Maarten. When executing this task we encounter and intervene in many concerns that affect people’s daily lives, and by extension our seniors. In contrast we’ve also encountered seniors, despite the challenges of growing old, enjoy and embraces old age. This then begs to question why the difference. And the answer is simple PREPARATION.

In reflecting on this year’s theme and specifically “leaving no one behind” it is important to draw one’s attention to the pre-elderly those nearing their golden years; between the ages of 50-59 years old. Within the next 10 years or less our pre-elderly will become our elderly and the question is: ‘Have they been planning and preparing for the years to come’? To avoid that our seniors experience hardships during old age, it is important that all stakeholders including the individual begin with preparations now. It is said one who fails to plan, plans to fail. Employing a proactive approach Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs is exploring the possibility of linking with potential stakeholders in developing an action plan for this specific objective in support of this target group.

Approaching this time in someone’s life might seem overwhelming due to the overly concern of: loss of identify, boredom as a result of one’s extra times on their hands, no longer having a sense of value, financial security and the eminent decline in health. However, being pro-active by planning and preparing at an early stage might lessen the anxiety that comes along with ageing.

Things to consider in preparing for the golden years:
· Improving or maintaining your health by either committing or(recommitting) to healthy eating and physical activity
· Assessing one’s debt and overall expenses
· Assessment of assets such as pension plans, insurances, property etc.
· Consider turning your hobbies into income generating activities

· Taking self-improvement classes
· Partaking in volunteer work

Just remember, whatever you decide to do, don’t wait to begin preparing, even though it might seem as if it’s far way. Success depends upon previous preparation and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.