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October 1 is International Day of Older Persons

Friday, September 30, 2016  
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Saturday, October 1st, the United States will join other communities around the world in observing the International Day of Older Persons. October 1 was designated by the United Nations in 1990 to recognize the vital contributions of older people to the global community and to encourage member nations to thoughtfully address the aging of the population.

This year, the United Nations has designated the 2016 International Day of Older Persons theme as “Take a Stand Against Ageism” in order to draw attention to and challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and aging. Ageism is the systemic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are considered old.

The international community has officially recognized the harmful consequences of ageism as a matter of human rights. In 2014, governments around the world adopted a resolution (E/RE/2014/7) at the United Nations Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as “the common source of, the justification for and the driving force behind age discrimination.”

In the United States and around the world, too often we see limited and stereotyped depictions of older people and of aging. Many of these messages center on the notion that seniors are burdens to their families and that aging places economic strains on countries.

While it is true that many older adults experience poor health as they age, many enjoy good health far longer than people once could expect. Combined with extended longevity, this means that older people are increasingly found in the workforce, playing key roles in their communities and providing care and support to family members. Many need some help with the tasks of life as they get older, but in many cases, older adults are providing this help to others in their families and communities.

Did you know that in the US 10,000 adults turn 65 every day? Globally, the number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050. We cannot let ageism get in the way of this unprecedented opportunity to benefit from the experience and capabilities of so many people. On this year’s International Day of Older Persons, and every day going forward, you are encouraged to make a committed effort to tell a different story of aging — one that sees older adults as valued contributors — and work to ensure that every person has the opportunity fully participate in their communities, throughout their lives.