Elderly Citizens Chat With President Zuma

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday visited residents of Lodewyk P. Spies Home for the Elderly in Eersterust, Pretoria East, where he interacted with them after assessing the state of the home.

The majority of elderly citizens gathered in a hall to interact with President Zuma about their stay at the home and their needs.

Elliot Dlamini, who came to the home in 2003 due to his disability, was one of the people who spoke to the President and made a request for an electric wheelchair because his current wheelchair is old and difficult for him to use. The President promised that it will be delivered to the home.

The 45-year-old Dlamini said he was admitted to the home after his parents passed on and was left with no one to take care of him. He used to live in Germiston, Johannesburg.

“It was really depressing at home after both my parents died. I had to do everything for myself and I could not manage. People would come to help me sometimes but they were not nice all the time. They were impatient with me,” he said.

Seated a few chairs away from Dlamini was Grace Rankhumise, 52, who could hardly contain her happiness at having President Zuma and other dignitaries as guests at the home.

Rankhumise said the Presidential visit made her feel special and reminded her that she belongs in South Africa.

“This visit shows that the President remembers us and considers us part of the South African community. It means a lot to me,” she said.

Rankhumise was involved in a car accident in 1984 and sustained traumatic injuries, including herniated cervical disc (C5 and C6) that affected her mobility and functioning of the arms.

She left her home in Hammanskraal in 2002.

“My parents are very old and they were the ones who used to take care of me. My siblings have jobs and were not able to babysit me. They have tried several times to get me a helper but they never lasted. So we talked and I agreed to moving here,” she said.

Rankhumise sleeps in a spacious eight-bed room, together with seven other residents who are older than her. She said she enjoys their company, although sometimes she feels she needs her own space.

Caring for the elderly

The President’s visit formed part of his Imbizo programme and aimed at highlighting care and support for older persons in the country.

President Zuma said various measures are being taken by government and many more are likely to follow to ensure healthy and positive ageing.

“As senior citizens, you are the foundation of our heritage. You are the rock that keeps our families and communities together. We owe our older persons the dignity and respect of following many years of sacrifices to build our families and communities,” said President Zuma.

He committed government to continue to work hard to ensure that seniors are taken care of in their golden years.

“I call upon each and every citizen of our country to do their utmost to ensure the welfare of our older persons in our country and to create opportunities for them to enrich our society and contribute to the growth and progress of our democratic nation.

“As government, we are promoting a new progressive way of looking at ageing through legislation such as the Older Persons Act and other programmes such as Active Ageing,” said the President.

The President urged South Africans to report cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of older persons to law enforcement agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are brought before the courts of law.

The President said government is also keeping an eye on financial exploitation of older persons by loan sharks, who operate illegally and prey on unsuspecting senior citizens.

He said the Department of Social Development is currently in the process of strengthening the Social Assistance Act Regulations and related legislation to stop the use of social grants as collateral for loans and hold reckless lenders to account.

“The department is also working collaboratively with the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Credit Regulator and other government departments and public entities to curb these illegal practices.”

About the care home

Lodewyk P. Spies Home, now registered as a non-profit organisation and residential care facility, was established in 1972 by the Ladies League of the South African Labour Party and was built in 1981. It became fully operational in 1984 when the first resident was admitted.

It has a capacity of 104 beds and provides 24-hour care to 91 beneficiaries.

There are 45 staff members working at the home comprising three professional nurses, two enrolled nurses, seven auxiliary nurses and 14 care givers. There is also an auxiliary social worker volunteering at the home, who manages the Individual Development Programme and the home’s Active Aging Programme.

Source : SAnews.gov.za