October 1, United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2019 with its theme “The Journey to Age Equality” aims to empower older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life as a means of ensuring their inclusiveness.  

On the occasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) also launched an innovative interactive digital application known as WHO ICOPE Handbook App to help health and social workers provide better care for older people.

The App will provide practical guidance to address priority conditions including mobility limitations, malnutrition, vision and hearing loss, cognitive decline, depressive symptoms and social care and support. The app aims to accelerate training of health and social workers to better address the diverse needs of older people.  

“It is essential that services for older people are included in universal health care packages. At the same time there needs to be good coordination between the health and social services to provide optimal care when needed. The new package of tools supports healthy ageing with a person-centred and coordinated model of care” said Dr Anshu Banerjee, director of the department of Maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health and ageing at WHO.

The world’s population is ageing at a fast pace. By 2050, one in five people will be over 60. The number of aged over 80 is projected to triple from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050. While every older person is different physical and mental capacities tend to decline with increasing age.  

“Such innovation will enable older people to continue doing the things they value and prevent them from social isolation and care dependency,” said Dr Islene Araujo de Carvalho, group lead on ageing and integrated care at WHO. “Intervening close to where older people live, with active participation of the community and older persons themselves, is essential for a personalized care plan,” he added.

The Integrated Care for Older People package of tools is the result of two years of extensive consultations with leading experts and stakeholders including civil society representatives.  

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The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of people of all ages. Empowering older persons and enabling their full participation and social inclusion in good health are ways to reduce inequalities.  

In line with this 2030 agenda, 2019 celebration specifically target to reduce inequality within and among countries and ensure equal opportunities for all.  

Equality for people who are older, and for each of us as we age, cannot be achieved without achieving equality for all of us throughout the life course.

United Nations in a tweet said, “Growing older does not diminish a person’s inherent dignity & fundamental rights. On Tuesday’s #OlderPersons Day, raise your voice in support of #AgeingEqual”

The International Day for Older Persons is celebrated on 1 October every year since 1990.