The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya has emphasised the need for families to take care of older members of society, as this is the basic unit of life that enables older citizens to have a balanced social and mental well-being.
This was during the United Nations International Day for Older People 2023 celebrations, which were marked at Segera Mission in Laikipia County. The celebrations were aimed at fulfilling the promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons, across generations.
In a speech read on her behalf by Julius Suubi, an advisor in the office of the First Lady, Mama Rachel Ruto described older members of society as invaluable segments of our population that act as a bridge between the wisdom of the past and the energy of the future.
The number of older people is estimated at 6%, totalling approximately 2.7 million people in Kenya. Most of the documented older people are found in rural areas and are faced with a myriad of challenges, including poverty, elder abuse, discrimination, limited access to opportunities, and a lack of employment and income-generation projects.
Rural-urban migration, in particular, has led to changes in family structures and priorities, impacting the traditional social protection systems for older people.
Mama Rachel Ruto lauded the plans by the State Department of Social Protection and Senior Citizens Affairs to increase the number of older persons benefiting from the cash transfer by 500,000 on top of the current one million beneficiaries.
The First Lady urged family members to enrol the elderly in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to ease access to Medicare, plant fruit trees for the elderly, and intentional family and community moments that support interactions between the youth and the elderly.
Further, she urged the national assembly and county assemblies to enact laws that will make Kenya a safe country for older people in society.