AGE highlights structural discrimination against older people with disabilities

older woman walking with support On the occasion of two consultations launched by the Council of Europe and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) AGE Platform Europe drew attention to the discrimination of older people with support needs.

Although AGE as an organisation represents older people with varying degrees of abilities and needs, the probability of facing a disability such as mobility problems, dementia and other functional limitations increases with age. In reality older people with age-related disabilities are rarely recognised and supported in a similar way as younger people with disabilities. Bringing the voice of older people in consultations and debates around disability we ensure that laws and policies do not discriminate against people who encounter impairments and require assistance for the first time when they reach old age.

Seizing the opportunity of the revision of the Council of Europe Disability Strategy we argued that the future roadmap for action in this area should include explicit reference to age discrimination. The Council of Europe is uniquely placed to address the multiple discrimination of older people with disabilities thanks to its pioneer work on older people’s rights, in particular the Recommendation on the promotion of human rights of older persons and the Recommendation on Ageing and Disability in the 21st century, which highlight the specific challenges for the older population. We also recommend taking action to improve awareness of the relevance of disability for older people and ensure that representatives of older people are involved and consulted by national and European bodies.

Similarly, we asked the OHCHR to take due account of the intersection of ageing and disability in the frame of its study on article 5 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which is about non-discrimination. Although the UNCRPD includes specific provisions for women and children with disabilities, it does not specify the rights of older people with disabilities regardless of the fact that they are an important and growing segment of the population. Lacking guidance as to whether differential treatment against older people, such as age limits in access to disability benefits,can be justified, older people with support needs are disadvantaged and entail risks of poverty and exclusion. Bringing forward examples that we have gathered through our members for previous positions on ageism and disability, we build the case for recognising the structural discrimination faced by older people with functional limitations.

These efforts form part of our annual work programme, which includes the discrimination of older people with disabilitie as one of our work priorities.

For more information you may contact Nena Georgantzi, Policy Officer

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