Take a stand against age prej­u­dice

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir:

THE WORLD’S pop­u­la­tion is age­ing, and rapidly so. Ac­cord­ing to the World Pop­u­la­tion Age­ing Re­port of 2015, be­tween 2015 and 2030, the num­ber of peo­ple in the world aged 60 years or older is pro­jected to grow by 56 per cent, from 901 mil­lion to 1.4 bil­lion. Alarm­ingly, by 2050, the global pop­u­la­tion of older per­sons is pro­jected to more than dou­ble its size, reach­ing nearly 2.1 bil­lion.

We, there­fore, can­not con­tinue to dis­crim­i­nate against those older mem­bers of our so­ci­ety since a siz­able pro­por­tion of our hu­man cap­i­tal and devel­op­ment rests with them. It is es­ti­mated that over the next few years, the num­ber of older per­sons is ex­pected to grow fastest in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, with a pro­jected 71 per cent in­crease in the pop­u­la­tion aged 60 years or over.

Women tend to out­live men for many rea­sons. As a re­sult, women ac­count for 54 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion aged 60 years or over. In 2014, gov­ern­ments around the world adopted a res­o­lu­tion at the Eco­nomic and So­cial Coun­cil that recog­nised ageism as the driv­ing force be­hind age dis­crim­i­na­tion. Each year, on Oc­to­ber 1, the world com­mu­nity pauses to com­mem­o­rate the United Na­tions In­ter­na­tional Day of Older Per­sons (UNIDOP). The day is set aside to raise aware­ness of the neg­a­tive stereo­types and mis­con­cep­tions which ex­ist about older per­sons and age­ing. The theme this year is ‘Take a Stand Against Ageism’.

PREJUDICIAL AT­TI­TUDE

Ageism is a widely preva­lent and prejudicial at­ti­tude that has its gen­e­sis in the cul­tural norms and mores of most so­ci­eties which place lit­tle value on the care and pro­tec­tion of the el­derly of­ten lead­ing to the abuse of older peo­ple. Un­for­tu­nately, we live in a world where em­pha­sis is placed on youth. In fact, mil­lions of dol­lars are spent on cos­met­ics, sur­gi­cal and med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions to re­main young, and we seek the foun­tain of youth at all cost.

The fail­ure of gov­ern­ments and so­ci­eties to tackle ageism un­der­mines the hu­man rights of the older per­son and places lim­i­ta­tions on their abil­ity to con­trib­ute to the so­cial, cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal life in their so­ci­eties. Is­sues such as af­ford­able health care and hous­ing need to be ad­dressed for the el­derly.

We need to en­gen­der a cul­ture and so­ci­ety in which we view the el­derly with re­spect, hav­ing a reser­voir of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise in their cho­sen fields of en­deav­our. Let us not judge any­one based on their age. Let us em­brace the theme of the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Older Per­son and take a stand against ageism.

Let us be mind­ful that if we live long enough, we, too, will one day be­come old. We should not de­fine each other by a mere num­ber. Dis­crim­i­na­tion has no place in the 21st cen­tury and is un­ac­cept­able in any form. In the words of Satchel Paige, “Age is a case of mind over mat­ter. If you don’t mind, it don’t mat­ter.” WAYNE CAMP­BELL @WayneCamo

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