6 October 2021

International Day of Older Persons: 1 October

Over the next 50 years, the number of older persons in the world will grow from about 600 million to almost 2 billion.

Today, one person in ten is aged 60 or over – by 2050, this will be one person in five, and by 2150, one in three.

Such a major demographic change presents huge challenges. The International Day of Older Persons aims to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population and the need to ensure that people can grow old with dignity and continue to participate in society as citizens with full rights. It is an opportunity to highlight the important contributions that older people make to society.

Older people make major contributions to society, through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and participating in the paid labour force. Throughout Africa and elsewhere millions of adult AIDS patients are cared for at home by their parents and orphaned children left behind by AIDS victims (currently 14 million under the age of 15 in African countries alone) are mainly looked after by their grandparents.

Older people have always played a significant role in society as leaders, caretakers, and custodians of tradition. Yet they are also highly vulnerable, with many falling into poverty, becoming disabled or facing discrimination. As health care improves, the population of older people is growing and so are their needs.

The theme for 2021 is ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’ and concerns the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons.

The rapid growth in digitalisation has transformed the world , yet one half of the global population is offline. Women and older persons are more likely to experience digital inequity than other groups in society; they either lack access to the technology or are unable to benefit fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress. There are also risks from digitalisation , older people are also more likely to be targetted by cybercriminals and those spreading misinformation, which can affect them financially and emotionally.

The objectives of the 2021 Day are :

  • Ageism & Human Rights

To bring awareness of the importance of digital inclusion of older persons, while tackling stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination associated with digitalization taking into account sociocultural norms and the right to autonomy.

  • Sustainable Development

To highlight policies to leverage digital technologies for full achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

  • Access & Literacy

To address public and private interests, in the areas of availability, connectivity, design, affordability, capacity building, infrastructure, and innovation.

  • Cybersecurity & Ethics

To explore the role of policies and legal frameworks to ensure privacy and safety of older persons in the digital world.

  • Accountability

To highlight the need for a legally binding instrument on the rights of older persons and an intersectional person-centred human rights approach for a society for all ages.

Sue Watkins
ARMs National Secretary