The many activities held during Senior Citizens Month were an important step toward honouring the elderly residents whose hard work built the modern Virgin Islands we know today.

But much more needs to be done year-round.

Too often, seniors seem to be all but forgotten until the annual May celebrations, when they are feted with ceremonies, concerts, trips and cultural events organised in their honour.

To be sure, these activities are important. This year, well-conceived “inter-generational” days gave seniors and schoolchildren a chance to interact. An open house at the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly showcased seniors’ arts and crafts skills.

And the “cultural soirée” held in the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park gave the rest of the community an invaluable opportunity to learn from seniors’ cultural and historical knowledge.

Such activities are good for everyone, and the government and other contributors deserve kudos for hosting them.f

But the very fact that such events are somewhat unusual outside of May highlights a big problem: For much of the rest of the year, seniors are often sadly neglected.

One of the most glaring examples is the government’s failure to build a new senior home despite decades of promises and political disputes. After multiple false starts before Hurricane Irma, the project now seems to have fallen so far off the agenda that politicians no longer even bother to promise it.

This is a sad state of affairs.

Additionally, a long-promised geriatric ward still has not been established at Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital, and the embarrassingly slow pace of rebuilding community centres after Irma has left many senior programmes without needed facilities.

Meanwhile, a senior policy and bureau that have been promised sporadically in recent decades are nowhere to be seen.

Amid such neglect, non-profit organisations like the VI Alzheimer’s Association, the BVI Cancer Society, the BVI Diabetes Association and the BVI Red Cross do their best to assist.

But moving forward, government leaders should redouble efforts to live up year-round to the rhetoric aired so frequently during Senior Citizens Month.

The territory’s seniors grew up in a time when the VI had a tiny fraction of the resources that are available here today. Most struggled to make ends meet in their younger days, and it was their herculean efforts that laid the groundwork for the modern VI.

The modern VI, then, must stop neglecting them.