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International Day of the Elderly People

23 September, 2019

Older Person
, International Day

On 1st October 2019, the world celebrates International Day of the Elderly People, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly on the 14th of December, 1990. Since, then every year, the world over, people celebrate this day with various events, and there is also usually a theme associated with it. This day is, as much to commemorate the contribution of the elderly to our society as a whole, as much as to create awareness among the public about them, and the issues they face.

The Themes

Over the years, the various themes have brought many issues and challenges to the fore, and the various events held across the world on the day have managed to shed light on these. The themes have been:

  • 2011: The Growing Opportunities & Challenges of Global Ageing
  • 2012: Longevity: Shaping the Future
  • 2013: The future we want: what older persons are saying
  • 2014: Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All
  • 2015: Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment
  • 2016: Take a Stand Against Ageism
  • 2017: Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions, and Participation of Older Persons in Society
  • 2018: Celebrating Older Human Rights champions

A quick glance at the themes of the last few years tell the story of how complex the issues are, and yet so sensitive and optimistic, and inclusivity is at the core of each of them. Rightly so, the theme for 2019 is “The Journey to Age Equality.”  This is in-line with the core principle of inclusivity and setting and achieving the sustainable development goals, as per the year 2030 agenda, adopted by the world leaders in September 2015 at the historic UN Summit.

The Aim

A UN report pegs approximately 700 million people across the world to be above the age of 60 currently. However, by the year 2050, this number is expected to be 2 billion people; that is, a whopping, more than 20 percent of the world's population! And therefore, it is obvious that the elderly people and their issues need attention. It is also important that they are made part of the society as equal contributors to its development and sustenance. Hence, the theme this year aims at drawing attention to various factors like:

  • Understanding old age inequalities.
  • Coping with and preventing future old age inequalities.
  • Understanding and how societal and structural changes can help the elderly through various initiatives like lifelong learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection, and universal health coverage.
  • Shedding light on negative narratives and stereotypes about old age.

The Expectation

So, what is expected from the young and the older generation of India, on this day, to help achieve the UN goals and the theme of the day? We need to acknowledge and talk about the problems faced by the elderly, in an open manner that facilitates discussion on solutions. Whether mental or physical health, social and financial security or inclusivity, these issues need to come out in the open in many forums. Solutions can be discussed, and awareness can be created among the public, especially the young on the same.

The younger crowd needs to discuss what can be done to integrate and include the elderly better, into their lives and society. The issues of the generational gap need to be understood, acknowledged, and given due attention, so that it does not become a blocker in the development of the elderly and their inclusivity.

More self-help communities and helplines need to be set up for the elderly, and also they need to be made aware of their rights and the laws of the country so that they can reach out without fear, if and when needed. A community that can take along everyone, including the elderly, will benefit from the mutual give and take, and the collective wisdom. We need to find ways to make this happen, and the International Day of the Elderly People and its theme is a perfect excuse for us to do so.

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