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Celebrating our older persons on an international scale

Today is the International Day of Older Persons, which celebrates our older people and draws attention to the needs and challenges, like isolation and discrimination, experienced by the world’s elderly.

The United Nations marked October 1 as the day to advocate for the rights of older people worldwide. [Source: Shutterstock]
The United Nations marked October 1 as the day to advocate for the rights of older people worldwide. [Source: Shutterstock]

This year’s theme, The Journey to Age Equality, recognises that development only occurs and is achievable if all ages are included in that journey. 

The United Nations marked October 1 as the day to advocate for the rights of older people annually.

In 2050, it is estimated one in five people in the world will be aged 60 and over, which is why it’s important to change the perspectives of people and their views of our elderly population.

International Day of Older Persons encourages seniors to develop every aspect of their life and be involved in social, economic and political life that ensures inclusiveness and reduces inequalities.

This day also urges countries to reduce inequalities and discrimination towards older people.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Sean Rooney, says the International Day of Older Persons is a day to affirm a national culture of respect for our elders.

“As a society, it is important that we recognise and celebrate every older person as an individual with wisdom and insight. An individual with their own unique hopes, desires and fears, and with present needs and future aspirations,” says Mr Rooney.

“By respecting older Australians we are saying to all Australians – you matter, what you do in your life matters, and as you age we as a nation are here to support you to continue to matter.”

Mr Rooney adds that this day represents a cultural shift that needs to occur in Australia from a focus on aged care to instead, ageing well.

“Building on a solid foundation of respect for our elders we can then chart a new course to reposition the notion of ageing from a condition of perceived debilitation and serial decline, to one of empowerment and inspiration – irrespective of an individuals’ abilities or life circumstances,” says Mr Rooney.

“Shifting our focus as a nation from ‘aged care’ to ‘ageing well’. This will assist us to more proactively and constructively respond to a range of related issues in Australia today, from tackling ageism and elder abuse in all its forms to realising the promise of age-friendly communities. This is a task of national significance.”

Coinciding with International Day of Older Persons, The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a special package of tools, including a digital app, to support health and social workers in providing good care to older people.

Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, Dr Anshu Banerjee, says, “It is essential that services for older people are included in universal health care packages. At the same time, there needs to be good coordination between the health and social services to provide optimal care when needed.”

To find out more about the International Day of Older Persons, visit the United Nations website

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