This year’s United Nations International Day of Older Persons is being held today at the Great Hall, University of Ghana in Accra.
The event spearheaded by the Centre for Ageing Studies of the university is being organised on the theme: “Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World.”
The day, October 1 set aside by the UN sought to highlight the resilience of older persons in the face of environmental, social, economic and lifelong inequalities.
This year’s celebrations which will mark the 77th anniversary of the UN and the 32nd of the International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP), also seeks to raise awareness of the importance of improved world-wide data collection, disaggregated by age and gender.
Additionally it would also serve as a wakeup call on member states, UN entities and civil society to include older persons in all policies, ensuring gender equality as described in the UN Secretary-General’s report.
The Director, Centre of Ageing, Professor Mavis Dako-Gyeke, speaking at the ceremony said even though ageing was perceived as a positive achievement in efforts to preserve the lives of persons, it was also associated with several physical, mental, economic and health adversaries that could affect the wellbeing of older persons.
Research on older persons in Ghana she stated, reported that chronic ailments, geriatric specific situations, isolation and neglect and ageism constituted some of the challenges experienced by older persons.
Prof. Dako-Gyeke stated that older persons could only overcome these challenges if they were assisted to become resilient, devote time on ageing matters, unearth solutions to issues among older people to enhance their wellbeing.
The centre, which she said was the first in the sub-region, encompasses interdisciplinary faculty with teaching and research interest in issues related to ageing and older people.
“As such the day’s activities would bring together major stakeholders including academicians, social work practitioners, health workers, care givers, religious institutions and the older people in society to deliberate and devise national strategies and action plans on ageing and would be preceded by a free health screening.
Prof. Dako-Gyeke said the day’s event would also place emphasis on awareness creation, attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening of collaboration to promote interventions and services for older persons to improve their qualities of life as well as pressuring government and other state actors to expedite action on the Aged Persons Bill.
The Executive Director, Tobbin Foundation, Mrs Harriet Nothinson Asante, urged the public to see the aged as companions and accord them that respect.
According to her, even though the Bible admonishes individuals to honour their father and mother, it did not say only biological parents but anybody who was older.
Older persons, Mrs Asante stated were friends to the youth in our families, served as family heads, advisors, care givers for working families and great acquaintances to people who offered that level of companionship.
“The aged are full of wisdom,very experienced and fond of telling stories, they serve as inspiration to people and cautioned against dangers that is why they must be held in high esteem instead of being seen as threats and talkatives,” she added.
She, therefore, urged the public to turn out in their numbers and support a noble cause that aimed at putting back the smiles on the faces of the elderly.
BY LAWRENCE VOMAFA-AKPALU