Covid-19 crisis now dulls communal moments for senior citizens - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Covid-19 crisis now dulls communal moments for senior citizens

In life and in death, the elderly are increasingly facing more isolation and solitude due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, elderly persons who occasionally come together and share experiences under the Compassionate Hearts organisation, are appealing to the government to at least let them bury their own in dignity.
This week, members of group were unable to assemble to bid farewell to one of their own, Ms Mwose Sili, who passed on at the age of 122.
She was born in 1898.
Government regulations have put a restriction of a maximum of 15 people for a burial ceremony which should take place within 48 hours.
Mr Samuel Ng'ang'u, a member from Makueni County, said they are at pains when they cannot attend or participate in the funeral of a friend who was well known to them.
He wishes the government could allow the elderly to bury their own while still maintaining the Covid-19 burial guidelines.
"The end of one’s life is very important and should be peaceful. The elderly should be given opportunity to escort their own to the grave so as not to cause anxiety among the young ones," said Mr Ng'ang'u.
He said an elder who is buried by just a few people is not respected in society.
Mwose was the eldest in the Compassionate Hearts network of elderly people.
This year too, there was no fanfare as the senior citizens marked the World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day at home due to the social distancing restrictions enforced by the government to guard against the spread of coronavirus infections.
The day, usually dedicated to highlighting forms of abuse among the elderly such as discrimination, physical abuse, material deprivation and neglect is marked on June 15th every year.
In the past, the elderly under the Compassionate Hearts charity usually looked forward to the day as it would afford them an opportunity to join fellow senior citizens in a walk, a communal meal and companionship as they exchanged experiences in a rare fellowship.
Fellowship for the elderly is important as it reduces their loneliness and averts sicknesses normally aggravated by resultant stress, says Mrs Ruth Bukachi, the head of the charitable organisation.
"Our society has become too busy to care about the elderly. Many elderly people feel neglected and develop stress which may aggravate other illnesses associated with the elderly," she says.
The organisation also offers regular medical check-ups for members in order to safeguard their health.
According to experts, elderly persons are more susceptible to Covid-19 fatalities as they often suffer other underlying conditions and their immune system is compromised.
Mrs Bukachi pointed out that the elderly need warm clothing and environment, especially during the June-July cold season when ailments like flu and pneumonia which are also symptoms of the coronavirus are bound to peak.
The organisation, which was started in 2009, has a membership of over 70,000 elderly persons spread across the country.
"Our goal is to enlist the over two million elderly persons in Kenya. We go beyond material support to offer the most basic of human needs which is a sense of social belonging and fellowship," she said.
She also appealed to the government to find better ways of helping the elderly through their local chiefs, adding that the current system of money transfers does not reach the elderly as intended.

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