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NCFA modernising national strategy for the elderly

Efforts under way to develop legislation to protect senior citizens

By Laila Azzeh - Oct 09,2016 - Last updated at Oct 09,2016

Members of the National Council for Family Affairs during a visit last Thursday to the Darat Samir Shamma for the Elderly in Amman (Photo courtesy of NCFA)

AMMAN — Although cases of negligence and abuse against the elderly in Jordan are considered “rare”, participants in grassroots meetings have called for a law to criminalise violence against senior citizens.  

During focus group discussions, initiated by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) to develop the national strategy for the elderly, participants also called for more leisure and recreational programmes to enhance the well-being of senior citizens. 

With around half-a-million people aged 60 and older in Jordan, efforts are under way to develop legislation and measures to protect the elderly and attend to their needs. 

In August, the NCFA started revisiting the Jordanian National Strategy for the Elderly with the support of the UN Population Fund. 

“We are working to modernise the strategy to best serve the elderly by examining their needs and the obstacles they face and through better networking with the concerned stakeholders,” Khadijeh Alawin, NCFA media director, told The Jordan Times.

She made her remarks during a visit last Thursday to the Darat Samir Shamma for the Elderly, a non-profit society that currently accommodates 23 senior citizens, 12 of whom were selected by the Ministry of Social Development as part of an agreement signed between the two parties.  

The visit, paid by members of the strategy committee, coincided with celebrations to mark the International Day of Older Persons, which falls annually on October 1. 

While officials agree on the need to offer more to the elderly, who make up 5.4 per cent of the population, this segment still suffers a number of obstacles that threaten their overall well-being. 

To this effect, the council has formed focus groups with people of different age brackets to discuss the needs of senior citizens.

“The discussions will also include parliamentarians, decision makers and service providers from both the public and private sectors,” Alawin highlighted, noting that the focus groups have held grassroots meetings in Amman, Balqa, Irbid, Mafraq and Karak.

So far, the outcomes of the meetings showed that young Jordanians hold the elderly in “very high esteem” and strongly support any ideas that serve this segment of society.

“They also voiced extreme rejection to putting them in care centres,” said Arwa Najdawi, a member of the strategy committee. 

As for the challenges, senior citizens suffer from a lack of leisure facilities and day clubs, elderly-friendly sidewalks and transportation. 

They also need free home-care services. 

The government is studying the possibility of establishing a fund for the elderly to provide this segment with the necessary social and health support, according to the NCFA.

According to the Department of Statistics (DoS), a total of 513,000 people aged 60 and older live in the Kingdom. 

Amman hosts the largest number of elderly residents, with 6.2 per cent, followed by Ajloun in the north and Karak in the south (5.3 per cent). 

Only 3.3 per cent of older persons live in the southern governorate of Aqaba, according to official data. 

Life expectancy rates are 74.3 years for women and 72.9 years for men, DoS said. 

Illiteracy among elderly people reached 33.4 per cent, while 23.3 per cent of both genders had been widowed, said the report, indicating that 73.1 per cent were married. 

 

DoS said 62.6 per cent of older persons suffer visual impairment, 45.6 per cent have hearing difficulties and 71.7 per cent complain of mobility impairment.

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