By George F. Evens. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 14, 1990 this important date is recognized annually on October 1st. In his 2012 address, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Longevity is a public health achievement not a social or economic liability. On this day, let us pledge to ensure the well-being of older persons and to enlist their meaningful participation in society so we can all benefit from their knowledge”.
Further, he stated, “Rapid population ageing and a steady increase in human longevity worldwide represent one of the greatest social, economic and political transformations of our time. These demographic changes will affect every community, family and person. They demand that we rethink how individuals live, work, plan and learn throughout their lifetimes”.
The 2012 theme – longevity: “Shaping the future” is followed this year 2013 with the theme being “The future We want: “What older persons are saying”. To accommodate Older person a survey is being conducted and all can enter their six priority views at www.myworld2015.org.
International Day of Older Persons seeks to create awareness about issues, such as, senescence (the biological aspect of ageing) and elder abuse (defined as a lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person) among other issues and to “recognize and appreciate contributions that older people make to society.” Additional areas of focus include: inequality, poverty eradication, health, food security and population dynamics, among others. Supporting the aims of International Day of Older Persons is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th.
The observance is a focus of ageing organizations, it is a global observance and not a public holiday. Caring people, including politicians, particularly those responsible for government departments that focus upon senior citizens, municipal governments proclaim their observance, politicians make speeches, promotional materials are predominantly displayed in schools, some radio, television or newspapers publish interviews or articles by senior citizens on various issues, such as government or associations achievements they made to create a better society, such as promoting older persons, inter-generational cooperation on voluntary activities focused on the environment, health, education or community services.
Discussions continue on such topics as ageing populations and the provision of adequate healthcare for aged persons, volunteer work, social care and ways to be more inclusive of older persons in the workforce and community.
This column follows Part 1 in a series by George Evens on seniors’ issues. For Part 1 simply click here.