October 1 marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons founded by the United Nations, which is now in its 75th year. The theme this year is how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted older people throughout the world and is outlined in a report entitled Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?

United Nations recognizes our vulnerable seniors

Considering that our senior populations have been among the worst-hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, is quoted as saying that the “pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world.”

“Beyond its immediate health impact, the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty, discrimination and isolation. It is likely to have a particularly devastating impact on older people in developing countries.”

Healthcare workforce also recognized

International Day of Older Persons 2020 will also highlight the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons, with special recognition of the nursing profession and the role of women – who are relatively undervalued and inadequately compensated globally, according to a United Nations report entitled Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

The decade of healthy aging

On International Day for Older Persons, the United Nations will also mark a new initiative in collaboration with the World Health Organization entitled the Decade of Healthy Aging. This ten-year initiative comes at a time when it is estimated that there are 703 million people over the age of 65 throughout the globe. By 2050, it is estimated that one in six people worldwide will be over 65 (16%) up from one in 11 in 2019. Over the next 30 years, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to be more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons.

The United Nations reports that it is projected that 80 percent of the world’s elderly will be low to middle income, and face a number of vulnerabilities including abuse, inadequate social security in some countries and a significantly lower income because of the Covid -19 pandemic. Additionally, the Decade of Healthy Aging initiative will ‘leave no one behind’ with the goal to reduce the health disparities between older persons in the developed and developing countries. The United Nations efforts will also increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and its impact on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.

There is no doubt that our elderly population has felt the impact of this pandemic and although we have fared well at the Brookhouse Home, we know that all seniors throughout this region remain vulnerable to this pandemic.

We commend the United Nations for taking the time to observe and promote our vulnerable elderly populations by increasing the awareness of the challenges our elders face. By also increasing awareness and appreciation of the role of the health care workforce in maintaining and improving the health of older persons, this initiative truly gives us cause to celebrate International Day for Older Persons.