Celebrating the International Day of Older Persons

older person's identity

Today is the 25th International Day of Older Persons. This year’s theme is sustainability and age inclusiveness in the urban environment. This international day is designed to bring awareness to the challenges seniors face all over the world.

Almost 700 million people are currently over the age of 60. By 2050, the older person's population (those over 60) is expected to reach 2 billion. This means there will be more older persons than there are children in the world. In spite of this, accessible homes and age-friendly facilities are not being built. That’s why we need this international day. It is a reminder to all of us that we need to provide for today’s seniors.

How Do Urban Areas Accommodate 900 Million Seniors?

men playing chess

Today, older persons want to live near everything they need. Cities provide easy access to everyday destinations including shopping, doctor’s offices, and community events. Accessible public transportation makes getting around easy and they can be close to friends and family. The number of older persons moving into urban areas is increasing at a rapid pace. According to the United Nations, the number of seniors living in cities may grow up to 900 million by 2050.  

With this in mind, cities must focus on improving the quality of life for seniors. Well planned cities are a necessity. The best cities for older persons feature accessible housing and age-friendly public facilities. Public transportation needs to be affordable, reliable and safe. An age-friendly city encourages seniors to be active and engaged in their community.

Why is there an International Day of Older Persons?

female senior in market

In 1982, the World Assembly on Aging met to discuss issues affecting seniors. Their goal was to help older persons enjoy peace, security and health in their advanced years.

The World Assembly voiced a concern for the challenges an unplanned city presents for the aging population. Seniors deserve a life of fulfillment, health and security as a fundamental part of society. This philosophy led the way for the Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging. This initiative was the first international event regarding aging and it laid a foundation for aging policies in the future. At the United Nations General Assembly in 1990, countries from around the world met again. At this UN event, resolution 45/106 designated October 1st as the International Day of Older Persons.

What has been done for older persons since 1990?

elderly man walking street

The United Nation’s mission to face the issues presented to older persons around the world did not stop there. They did not want these resolutions to be forgotten as the world entered a new century. In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Aging adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. This jumpstarted the plan for the 21st century. 

In 2007, the World Health Organization partnered with 35 cities to document first-hand experiences of seniors and caregivers. They asked questions such as: what age-friendly features are already in place? What would enhance their health and participation? This research was compiled into a Global Age Cities Guide.

The guide highlights the issues and concerns for eight areas of urban living voiced by older persons and their caretakers. The areas of concern include outdoor spaces, transportation, housing, social participation, civic participation, employment, community support and health services. This guide led these cities in their effort to make urban environments more age inclusive. 

What does this mean for the older persons population?

picnic laughing family

These plans have helped guide approaches to enhance the lives of seniors around the world. Communities can continue to improve aging population’s quality of life in the years to come. Cities have taken steps to provide safe and accessible housing, as well as age-friendly public facilities. Communities have recognized public transportation as key to an older person’s inclusion in society. Individuals are doing their part too. Many city residents are taking steps toward sustainability, this year’s theme for International Day of Older Persons. Communities and their residents must work together to make these changes happen. 

60+ Counts

Seniors play a critical role in our communities. They help their families with care responsibilities, do volunteer work and take part in the labor force. Their experience and knowledge is something everyone can learn from. Age inclusiveness is a movement that all communities need to take part of. On this 25th International Day of Older Persons, create awareness and spread the word that 60+ counts.