Take a Stand Against Ageism

By Katie Smith Sloan

The International Day of Older Persons in early October focused on the World Health Organization’s campaign against ageism – Take a Stand Against Ageism. On October 6th at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, ambassadors from Argentina and Singapore joined the chorus of NGO’s and others in advocating for a “whole society approach”  or a “networked approach” to addressing biases against ageing. To change attitudes, we need to start with the uncomfortable notion of looking at our own biases.

Nicodimus Chipfupa from HelpAge International in South Africa reminded the diverse audience of advocates that if a country is proud of who they are, they should highlight the contributions of older people, as it is these contributions that made the country what it is today. He suggested that we need to look at older persons as partners rather than beneficiaries.  Alana Officer, Senior Health Advisor at WHO, remarked that the extent to which societies benefit from longevity depends on the health of the elderly. While there are no global prevalence figures about ageism around the world, in the World Values Survey, 60% of people from 57 countries reported that older people are not respected. We need to build and embed a new attitude about aging. Officer said  “we live in an ageing world; it doesn’t have to be ageist.”

IAHSA has joined WHO and others in its campaign to Take a Stand Against Ageism–and we encourage you to join us!

Learn more about how you and others in the community can join the movement against ageism here.

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