INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR OLDER PEOPLE- Today, the world commemorates the International Day of Older Persons. The elderly are the world’s fastest growing population group in the world, with those 60 years or older constituting one person in 10. The theme of this year’s observance is “improving the quality of life for older persons”.
The UNFPA – the United Nations Population Fund is at the centre of advancing UN global strategies in fostering a society for all ages to enjoy happy and healthy lives with opportunities for individual development and self-fulfillment. DR. ANN PAWLICZKO is the Senior Project Advisor in the Population and Development Brach at the UNFPA. From New York she told VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga that there is cause for celebration because today people are living longer than ever before. “a baby born today can expect to live 65 years, of course it varies where you are born; if you are born in a developed country it will be around 76 years” she said.
She said population aging is a real success and a triumph although it is also a challenge. “the challenge is to add life to years and not years to life”, she observed.
Dr. Pawliczko said all persons want a comfortable, enjoyable, and meaningful life as they get older but the challenge is to make it a reality for as many older people as possible.
The day of older person is meant to advocate for improving the quality of life of older persons and recognizing the contributions older person make to the community. “many older persons, especially in Africa, are taking care of their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS at a time they were expecting to be cared for by their adult children” Dr. Pawliczko said. She emphasized the need to support the elderly caregivers “older people need help to care for AIDS victims and orphans, they cannot do it alone”.Dr Pawliczko pointed out that governments in many African countries have fewer resources to support older persons and they are more concerned with programs to support children unlike in the developed world where almost twenty percent of the population is sixty years and over.