The International Day of Older Persons is observed annually on October 1 to create awareness and support the aging population.
The day was designated on December 14, 1990 by the United Nations General Assembly to increase awareness of older persons, recognize their impact, highlight their issues and extend support that will allow them to grow old with dignity. The first time the world celebrated the International Day of Older Persons was on October 1, 1991.
In 1982, the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing had set precedent after it was adopted and endorsed by the World Assembly on Aging and the UN General Assembly respectively.
The general Assembly later adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons in 1991 and the second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in 2002. The latter initiative focused on creating opportunities and addressing the issues that the aging population faces in the 21st century as well as promoting a society for all ages.
The UNIDOP theme for 2022 is ‘Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World’.
According to the United Nations, older persons who are at least 60 years old are expected to increase in number to 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050. The current number of older persons is approximately 700 million and the exponential increase of this demographic over the next three decades presents major challenges to almost all sectors of society. The change will affect the financial and labor markets, health care, and housing and social protection, among other sectors.
Initiatives such as the International Day of Older Persons help to promote the dignity of our aging population by addressing their interests and needs and the theme for this year couldn’t be more apt. Resilience in a changing world, which has been recently highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting critical services globally, is exactly what we all need. There are a number of things we can do to celebrate the International Day of Older Persons and showcase their resilience and impact on society.
Older persons are a vulnerable population prone to poverty, discrimination and health issues since some people tend to ignore or forget their contributions to society; the aging population has dedicated years to nurturing families, participating in volunteer work and paid workforce, and imparting their knowledge and experience.
To celebrate International Day for Older Persons, different institutions announce initiatives and organize activities that improve the lives of senior citizens. The media also interviews older persons and highlights their achievements and challenges to increase public awareness. You might also find activists, especially in politics and social media, lobbying for increased rights and access to resources for older persons.
Volunteering your time to chat and help the older persons in your communities is a great way to observe the day and let the elderly know you value them, and you will be able to relate to them and understand their needs better. As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, our aging population includes society leaders with a rich history of culture, traditions and knowledge they can pass on to you. They can provide us with a good example of competence, resilience, resourcefulness and responsibility.
The World Health Organization is an active and significant promoter of the International Day of Older Persons and its logo features often in UN promotional tools. WHO advocates for health and social care for the aging population through initiatives such as the UN Decade of Healthy Aging (2021–2030).