We’re fortunate to have older people around us, whether they’re family, friends, or just general acquaintances. Older people are fonts of wisdom, experience, and storytelling. They can inspire us to continue striving — or warn us of dangers we’re unaware of. We should look to them for guidance whenever and wherever possible. Unfortunately, far too often we tend to forget — or, worse, downright ignore — the older people in our lives. That’s one of many reason why the International Day of Older Persons on October 1 is such a terrific holiday.
International Day of Older Persons timeline
The United Nations adopted October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons. About 10 months later, the world observed the first-ever International Day of Older Persons on October 1, 1991.
Assembly on Aging
According to the United Nations, "the international community started to highlight the situation of older persons" by adopting the "World Assembly on Aging."
Human rights and the elderly
The U.N. seeks to promote "the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons."
How to Observe International Day of Older Persons
Chat with an older person
If we take the time to get to know an older person, even one right in our own family, we may see them in a new light and learn something about ourselves in the process.
Volunteer your time
There's a lot that can be done to make life easier for older people. Find out about organizations in your area that work with the elderly and see what you can do to help.
Become an advocate
The United Nations says "enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required." It's important to recognize, as the U.N. also says, "the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society."
4 Reasons To Embrace Aging
The world is getting much older
Almost 900 million people in the world are older than 60. By 2050, 2 billion people — or 22 percent of the planet’s population — will be that age. In fact, by 2050 — for the first time in human history — there will be more people over 60 than there are children in the world.
Longevity is becoming commonplace
According to the U.N., life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years between 1950 and 2010. It's expected to rise to 81 by the end of this century.
Happiness increases with old age
According to a recent study, most people are happiest in youth and then once they reach their 70s and 80s. Most people reported that they were the least happy in middle age.
Sex gets better, too — at least for women
Although older women may have sex less often than they did when they were young, researchers have found that sexual satisfaction improves with age. In fact, women over 80 are more likely than their younger counterparts to report a satisfying sex life.
Why International Day of Older Persons is Important
Older people deserve our respect and attention
In addition to the wonderful things older people bring to our lives, a day set aside to honor them reminds us to take the time to be kind and humble in the presence of a long life well-lived.
We want to teach young people
The holiday is a way to educate younger people on many of the issues faced by the elderly, such as abuse and senescence — the deterioration of mental and physical processes.
We don't know everything
If we're lucky, age confers upon us a measure of self-awareness and wisdom. Focusing on the challenges faced by the elderly reminds us that there is still much to learn about ourselves and the world.