The aim of this study was to document the perceptions of elders in six Caribbean countries about ‘active ageing’ and on the basis of their reports to make recommendations to improve their situation. Data were collected principally through 31 focus group discussions conducted in both urban and rural areas. Comparative analysis was carried out of the qualitative information, focusing on three components of ‘active ageing’: health and social services access and use, social support, and economic circumstances. Most of the participants were women, aged 60–79 years, of lower socio-economic status and from urban areas. Large disparities in the responses of Caribbean societies to population ageing were indicated, as well as unequal opportunities to obtain health care and social services, public transport, income and food by both socio-economic status and location. Home-care services are either insufficient or non-existent. Some elders receive social and financial support from relatives while others fear isolation and face deprivation. Social participation varies by place, physical condition, financial situation, association membership, and transport opportunities. Social protection benefits do not provide adequate income and some older people face food insecurity. It was concluded that a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach using the ‘active ageing’ framework should be implemented to ensure a healthy ageing process.
(Accepted June 22 2009)
(Online publication September 24 2009)