Ageing with Disability

Ageing can be viewed as an honourable achievement, but it also poses health and socio-economic challenges for the rapidly growing population of older persons in sub-Saharan Africa. It is important to maintain mental and physical functioning so as to reduce burdens on economic and social responsibilities as one grows older.

Successful ageing can be defined as adding life to the years. It comprises freedom from chronic disease and the ability to operate well in old age, both physically and cognitively. Disability in old age is identified as risk factors associated with age-related diseases, impairments, inactive lifestyles and other unhealthy behaviours as well as social and environmental obstacles. Disability as per research studies in Uganda is associated with advancement in age, rural residence, living alone, divorced/widowed, marital status, dependence on remittances, ill health and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Interventions to improve the health and functioning of older people it is important to address social inequalities and early preventive interventions in old age in Uganda

To address the situation attached to old age disability policymakers at all levels have developed policies that can support older persons with disabilities in accessing public services. URAA over the years has conducted a series of training on social accountability to create awareness in areas of health, housing, security, and technology-friendly devices to older persons councillors and leaders as well as participating in health clinic awareness drives especially targeting older persons with disabilities to access essential medical assistance for improved health service delivery targeting deprived older people in local communities, especially in rural environments.

The need for social inclusion of persons with disability targeting the elderly groups has awakened the lobby for more allocation of financial support from the government of Uganda to implement the constitutional rights of Persons living with disabilities especially older people.

Achievements in addressing issues of older persons with disability include:

  • Older Persons have taken the initiative to advocate for their own rights, while the local council authorities have provided information about age and disability discrimination practices in social institutions and communities while looking for services in health and economic and political spaces. These service gaps have been identified for correction
  • Provision of effective programmes for disability prevention and reduction especially among poor through sharing available evidence to dismiss the old myths that the risk of disease is a normal part of old age.
  • URAA alongside other stakeholders have advocated for national policies to be developed as strategic preventive plans at national and community levels to address healthcare issues.
  • Ability of older people themselves to better cope with disability risk factors and to manage chronic illness could be increased and improved through educational and counselling programmes.
  • URAA alongside other Age care organisations and government key heads and stakeholders have advocated for the training of Gerontologists and Geriatricians to implement effective services for older people.

Without contradiction, it is rife that disability is synonymous with old age at the community level, greater effort should be invested in making use of existing knowledge and increasing sensitivity to the prevention of disability among older people. Promoting healthy behaviours such as regular exercise and other related social activities.

    Older persons with disabilities accessing medical services during Health Clinic camp

Older people with disabilities sharing their experiences associated with a disability during International Day for Older Persons


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