Take a stand against age prejudice
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’.
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