A former Tlokweng College teacher plans to open what she hopes will be Botswana’s first day care centre for the elderly, catering for those aged 65 and above. ┬á
Keneilwe G Mpuang, who retired from teaching in 2005, said the centre will be the first step towards the setting up of a senior citizen empowerment trust.┬á
The day care centre, to be built in Mogoditshane Block 9, was inspired by a trip Mpuang took to the United Kingdom a few years ago. There she saw firsthand how day care centres and old age homes are meeting the needs of senior citizens.
“Most Africans leave their elderly parents at home as they have to work,” Mpuang said. “The centre will engage the elderly in useful pursuits.”
An initiative with her partner, Ivy Salim, the centre will be a place for the elderly to engage in activities like knitting, gardening and selling of vegetables. Mpuang said a nurse would be hired to make sure the elderly who are on medication take their pills and assist in matters involving their health.
She added that the centre will provide a safe haven and family atmosphere for senior citizens; they will experience a sense of security and friendship as they share with each other their joys and sorrows.
However, she emphasised this will be different from an old age home, which, in places like the UK, provide care, comfortable shelter and looks after the physical and psychological changes of those in old age.
“The problem with these homes is that the elderly people housed there often feel neglected and abandoned,” she said, emphasising what she saw in nursing homes. “The nurses who take care of them don’t even do a good job at times.”
Mpuang and her partner are currently scouting for funds to start building the centre. After the project has taken off, she plans to open similar day care centres in Moshupa and Kanye and eventually across Botswana.
The idea for this prospective day care centre comes after Bagodi Barona Association, formed in 2003 by Mabel Basson, also revealed plans to open the country’s first day care centre for senior citizens.
Elderly day care centres are new to Botswana and the region, but are a feature of western countries. The number of people above 60 years worldwide is set to increase to 2 billion by 2050, beating the number of children under 14 years.
Therefore according to concerned people like Mpuang and Basson, society is seeing an increased need for developments that meet the needs of senior citizens.