WHO International Day of Older Persons

On October 1st, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises the ‘International Day of Older Persons’. This important day has been recognised since its designation in 1990, with 2016 being its 26th anniversary.

But what exactly is the International Day of Older Persons, and how might you want to recognise it yourself?

‘Take A Stand Against Ageism’

Every year, the International Day of Older Persons has a theme. In 2015, it was: ‘Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment’.

For 2016, the theme is: ‘Take A Stand Against Ageism’. The WHO is currently campaigning against ageism and all the problems that it causes in societies around the world, and this year’s theme fits in with that.

The Challenges Posed by Ageism

Today, 600 million people in the world are aged 60 and over. By 2025, the number will double. By 2050, that number will reach 2 billion (Source: WHO).

This is an issue that we must address, especially when ageism is still rife.

Ageism poses a challenge for elderly people every day. It often reveals itself subtly, and many people may even be unaware of it when it occurs.

It is seen in:

  • Fewer opportunities for employment
  • The marginalisation of the elderly
  • The portrayal elderly people in the media as senile
  • Social exclusion

These can all have serious consequences for elderly people. According to the WHO, research suggests that those people who have a negative attitude towards ageing will live shorter lives – as much as 7.5 years less.

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People with a negative attitude towards ageing also find it harder to recover from disease and disability. Elderly people may feel that they are a burden and that their lives are not as valuable. It can affect their wellbeing and make them feel unwanted and unimportant, and this can risk depression and isolation.

The idea behind the day is to question these attitudes and to raise awareness of the impact older people can have. Importantly, it is an opportunity to recognise the contributions they make.

How You Can Help on the International Day of Older Persons

If you care for an elderly friend or relative, you know of the huge role elderly people can play in our society, such as the knowledge, skills and qualities they possess that make them valuable members of society no matter what their age.

You can use International Day of Older Persons to spread the word about this.

Perhaps you could hold an event or a local fundraising event for a charity. You could arrange an event for and younger people to focus on bringing the generations together and make them know how much they are valued.

Or you could simply make a special effort to remind the elderly people you know that they are loved, respected and valued.

Caring for older people in our society is something we all benefit from, so tell your friends about the International Day of Older Persons in October, and spread the word about this important day.

Useful Resources:

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