Thirty years ago, the United Nations established the International Day of Older Persons, designed to recognize the importance of senior citizens around the world. Every year on October 1st, the United Nations determines a theme pertinent to the global community of older persons, and uses it to raise awareness for a critical issue.
This year, the theme is more relevant than ever, with the discussion focusing on “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?” While the world still grapples with the impacts of COVID-19, the UN is taking a moment to look at exactly how it’s affecting seniors today, and what the long-term outcomes may be for older persons.
The International Day of Older Persons is an important opportunity to promote attention and increase knowledge about the lives of seniors around the world. Here’s what you should know about this day of awareness.
The History and Mission of the International Day of Older Persons
On December 14th, 1990, the United Nations declared that October 1st would become a day to recognize older persons around the world. It was preceded by other UN initiatives like the 1982
World Assembly on Ageing, all designed to raise awareness to the struggles, and find solutions to global challenges faced by the elderly.
With over 700 million people over the age of 65 around the world -- a number expected to double by 2050 -- the UN and other global bodies recognize the importance of supporting older persons around the world. This is of particular importance in developing countries, where the number of seniors is rapidly growing, but the infrastructure and systems to support them are far less robust than in the developed world. Part of the UN initiative is to help develop support systems for seniors in these countries.
International Older Persons day also seeks to celebrate the lives, contributions and experience of seniors everywhere. Among its stated goals is the idea of “Ageing in Health”, wherein it’s possible to grow old with minimal medical concerns, which heightens quality of life and allows for creative pursuits, late life education, and new hobbies. Health empowers senior citizens to enjoy their golden years, which is one of Heart to Home Meals’ main missions as well.
This Year’s Theme
On the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, the UN is raising awareness to an issue perhaps more pertinent and profound than any previous year -- the ongoing global pandemic. The theme, titled “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?” aims at raising awareness and fostering study of the unique impact the pandemic is having on the global community of older persons.
This year’s theme also aims to highlight the “Decade of Healthy Ageing” project that attempts to find ways to increase the health of global seniors and their quality of life. Naturally, this becomes more challenging during a pandemic, and helping countries understand and discover new ways to promote health with the unique issues faced by seniors becomes enormously important.
Additional areas of focus include developing a deeper understanding of COVID-19’s impact on the policy and care of seniors, and finding ways to close the gap between levels of care for older persons in developed vs developing nations so that no one “is left behind” as the UN states.
2020 also carries with it a double theme, not only recognizing the unique situation older persons have been facing during the pandemic, but the healthcare workers who’ve been on the front lines. This year's secondary theme called “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” will focus strongly on the nursing professions relationship with the older community, and the value they bring to ageing with health.
National Seniors Day in Canada
Also on October 1st, Canada celebrates seniors with “National Seniors Day” one of many globally related events related to International Older Persons Day. However, while this year’s global theme is relatively serious as it pertains to the pandemic, Canada’s celebration of seniors focuses more on community, connection and communication.
National Seniors Day seeks to demonstrate “respect and gratitude” for older persons in our lives with simple gestures. It could be as small as younger folks taking the time to say hello, or share thanks for seniors being in their lives. While close contact is still inadvisable in lots of scenarios, leveraging technology to connect with seniors is a great way to celebrate this year’s National Seniors Day.
The International Day of Older Persons is an important day that represents the hundreds of millions of seniors around the world. Designed to raise awareness and develop strategies towards long-term healthy living and quality of life, 2020 is a particularly important year to share in the process and take time to celebrate the seniors in our life.
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