TODAY VENEZUELA – The murders this year of Caracas residents Luisa Castelo Baldomir (88), Manuel Barrios (84) and Pedro José Azpúrua Marturet (85) illustrate the dangers that hunt Venezuelan elderly.
Attacks against old people have sparked concern of retirement homes that insist on the necessity to enhance security conditions for these individuals.
Experts remark the need to address the problem before it is too late, particularly having in mind the current aging trend of the Venezuelan population.
According to data from the Statistics National Institute (INE), the number of people older than 65 years would almost double in 2000-2020 from 1,183,348 to 2,447,736.
The population aging has compelled authorities to adopt measures to guarantee welfare for a society in need of special care, including healthcare, entertainment and security.
The age against
Characteristics inherent in advanced age end up tripping old people up.
Frank Jugo, the head of Santo Domingo Foundation, an organization that takes care of old and disabled people, said that “the passage of time brings about vulnerabilities including decreased physical strength, few reflexes, and life-limiting diseases that, along with scarce contact with the outside world, end up turning grandparents into the ideal victims of many criminals.”
In addition, the expert stated, there is an issue of habits acquired year after year, detrimental to people older than 65. “These are people who lived in other times. For this reason they are so trusting or even naïve, prone to commit mistakes and act carelessly, thus costing them their lives,” he reasoned.
The protecting family
For his part, Luis Francisco Cabezas, a representative of NGO Convite and president of nursing home “Abuelos Miranda,” said both elderly and the rest of Venezuelans are exposed to insecurity, yet as we get older, we become more vulnerable.
He stressed the need to design an awareness campaign able to face vulnerabilities in old people with regard to personal security and educate them in that sense.
Cabezas informed that Convite along with the Spanish government advances a program for care and monitoring of Spanish old people. “It is a training course for caregivers aware of needs and dangers that these people may face.”
He added that there are many non-violent crimes largely damaging old people. They include fraud, robbery and theft, tricks that in many opportunities leave these people homeless.
The two experts have insisted on the value of family to protect their ascendants. “Just like we look after children, we must take care of grandparents. They represent hope and experience; both are important for life in society.”
Social networks as preventive weapons
Over the past years, a trend has emerged in organized communities, such as the use of social networks as a tool against insecurity in neighborhoods.
Chacao, Baruta and Sucre municipalities have neighborhood networks which warn police agents through Whatsapp as part of the efforts to reinforce security.
In this case, reports are a fundamental requirement. However, both the absence of denounces and old people’s limitations to use technological devices make social networks inefficient.
The Life Button is another proposal, an innovative program both in its conception and functionalities, which gives an immediate response in terms of health and security.
The program consists of a button attached to a bracelet. When pressed, the switch activates a phone call to the emergency department of Carrizal municipality in north-central Miranda state, thus allowing security authorities to act in emergency situations.
Lyndons Guzmán, director of Emergencias Carrizal, explained that the bracelet was originally designed to respond to medical emergencies of people with certain conditions. He added, however, that its use may be extended to old people’s personal security.