To be Old and Poor in Haiti

Idamise Pierre leans against a tree for support as she waits to bathe at the city-run nursing home for the aging population in Port-au-Prince. She said, “It was always hard being old in Haiti, but after the earthquake, to be old and poor feels like a curse.” -Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post

Haitian elderly, 65 and up, makes up 3.5 percent of the population, the elderly population in more developed countries make up 13 percent of the population. Reporter Nikki Kahn visited a nursing home in Port-Au-Prince during the morning bath time and revealed these shocking facts:

  • Morning baths are taken outside with strung up blankets for privacy; although there are at least 10 other women sitting behind the same blanket waiting their turn. A 62 year old woman was carried in nothing but a diaper through the courtyard for her morning shower.
  • Behind another blanket a group of men sit in wheelchairs and portable toilets while waiting their turn to be bathe.
  • After their bathes the men and women sit, still wet behind the blankets in chairs without robes or towels waiting to be dressed. Often it is men who dress the women.

“We struggle to maintain a little dignity, but look at us,” said one women lying on soiled sheets while waiting for her turn at a bath.

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