PDP candidate for mayor of San Juan proposes ‘health and productivity’ for elder citizens
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Given that the capital of Puerto Rico has almost 100,000 citizens who are 60 years or older, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for mayor of San Juan Rossana López León on Wednesday announced her governmental plan to provide for the elder community’s welfare.
López León said that even if 27 percent of the elder population in San Juan are “healthy, productive and the primary family supporter,” she recognizes that members of this sector live in poverty or have a functional issue that would put them at risk.
“Many are living in poverty, have some functional diversity, live alone, and more than 3,000 of them have had to assume responsibility for their grandchildren,” López León said. “These people take care of the health of these minors and their financial insecurity increases the difficulties in obtaining services, added to the fear that their children or grandchildren will drop out of school, be diverted into the world of drugs or have to leave the country.”
In order to solve the aforementioned issues, López León, who is a gerontologist, said she will develop a “New Golden Village” in the former Las Antillas Clinic. This “village” will become a preventive services center, an elderly home that includes assisted living, long-term care and the largest geriatric medicine center in the Caribbean.
“It will include gerontology and geriatric services, a daycare center for people with first-stage Alzheimer’s,” the candidate said. “This will help in the development of elderly homes in San Juan that will become an example to the world. I envision the development of such centers on every social level.”
Likewise, the PDP senator said she will be promoting the construction of co-housing residences that she said will open up the opportunity to provide basic independence for the elder community. Meanwhile, the project could provide optimal conditions for sharing tasks and interests with other members of the community.
“As I announced before, one of the projects will be for the elder members of the LGBTQIAP+ community,” López León said.
Another of the initiatives to be implemented is one called “Expert Volunteering.” It consists of the creation of a corps of volunteers with retirees who are experts in different subjects and are willing to share their knowledge and skills with others.
López León said she will use both state and federal funds available so that San Juan’s elder citizens complete the required number of credits to receive Social Security benefits.
“We will maintain a continuous training program in the use of the computer, internet searches and management of social media networks,” she said. “The creation of the University of the Third Age will be a program of courses at the Technological Institute of San Juan to help elder citizens gain knowledge and to promote greater productivity.”
When the Star asked the senator how she will be able to fulfill her plan for the elder community if a government from a different political party is elected in November, López León said it would be possible because “the government would not be a stumbling block” given that she has “the expertise to care for the elder community.”
Other proposals presented by candidate included providing a 24/7 telemedicine and telehealth system, the development of the San Juan Registry for the Third Age and the creation of a “Caretaker School” to give elder caretakers an opportunity to enhance their skills and become more capable in their responsibilities.