International day of older persons – By Dr. Kala Singh
1st October is celebrated as the International Day for Elderly People each year which was first established at 14th of December 1990 by the United Nations General Assembly. Celebrating the day for the first time was started on 1st October 1991 to make people aware about issues affecting the elders as well as to appreciate their contribution towards the society.
The theme of International Day of Older Persons 2017 is “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.
Prejudicial attitude towards older people is widely prevalent in some form in all societies.
It is seen in individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalue and exclude older persons. In 2014, Governments around the world adopted a resolution at the Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as “the common source of, the justification for and the driving force behind age discrimination.” How older persons are treated and perceived in the society, medical settings and workplaces is due to this type of discrimination. It creates environment that limit older persons’ potential and impact their health and well-being. The failure to tackle ageism undermines older persons’ rights and hinders their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political life.
The theme of the 2017 International Day of Older Persons is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with older persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.
This year’s theme underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process.
Between 2015 and 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, the number of older persons worldwide is set to increase by 56 per cent — from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and above will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24.
Stepping into the future with pledges that no one will be left behind, it is starkly evident that the need to tap into the often overlooked and under-appreciated contributions of older persons is not only essential to older persons’ well-being, but also imperative for sustainable development processes.
The 2017 theme will explore effective means of promoting and strengthening the participation of older persons in various aspects of social, cultural, economic and civic and political life.
Let’s not ignore older people in our families and use them for baby-sitting only but use their vast knowledge which they have gained all their life through experience. Include them in all discussions at home and value their input. From today let’s treat our older people with respect and dignity and treat them as a valuable asset rather than a liability.
Dr. Kala Singh worked as Psychiatric Doctor in Africa for 21 years before immigrating to Canada where he worked with Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. Now he gives Sikh religious and spiritual counseling and psychotherapy to clients with stress, domestic problems, children problems, couple counseling and mental health problems like depression and anxiety. For more information he can be contacted at 604-327-5253.