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‘Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions’: International Day of Older Persons

Today marks a special occasion around the world. More than 25 years ago, the United Nations designated Oct. 1 as the International Day of Older Persons—a day to celebrate the contributions of the elderly to our society and to promote the “full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons.”

This declaration has its roots in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, around the time that many of today’s seniors were born. The United Nations estimates that 700 million people—twice the population of the United States—are now over the age of 60. This number is expected to climb to 1.4 billion by 2030 and to crest 2 billion (more than 20 percent of the world’s population) by 2050.

With these changing demographics, it’s important to have older human rights champions so that we recognize the contributions of our seniors—and make sure they are taken care of when they need it. The theme of this year’s recognition is “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions,” and to achieve this, the UN has four goals:

  • Promote the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and what this declaration means in the daily lives of seniors.
  • Raise the visibility of seniors in our society.
  • Reflect on the progress and challenges of ensuring seniors’ rights and freedoms.
  • Engage broad audiences around the world.

For our part at Brandermill Woods, one of our true pleasures is getting to know the stories of our residents. They have a lot of life experience, and many of them have memories from the Great Depression and World War II. Hearing their stories, it’s amazing to reflect on the world that once existed, and what earlier generations endured.

We’re grateful to enjoy their legacy and hear their stories, but on this occasion, we hope people also recognize the essential contribution of seniors to our world today, in the here and now, as well as the challenges they can face if society neglects them.

In recognition of the International Day for Older Persons, think about the seniors you know—family, loved ones, neighbors. Do they live alone? Consider stopping in to say hello and check on them. Offer to take them to lunch if you can swing it.

If you can’t physically see someone, drop them a note in the mail to let them know you’re thinking of them. Better yet, send them an email or Facebook message—we know many seniors who are more active on technology than people half their age.

Let’s all become champions for older person and celebrate our seniors. For more about the United Nations and its resources for human rights, visit their home page for the recognition.