Older people’s organisations across Europe are getting mobilized around the International Day of Older Persons on 1st October. Many of this year’s celebrations are marked by the COVID-19 crisis, which particularly affected the older generations and their families. Here are just a few of the initiatives carried out by our member organisations on that occasion.
The European Seniors’ Union (ESU) sees in this International day an invitation to reflect on how older people were treated, valued and represented during the recent crisis. Inspired by sometimes heart-warming, but often painful experiences from senior citizens in recent months, ESU are calling for future more resilient and fairer European societies that pursuits a 4-fold objective:
- Respect for human dignity;
- Fighting ageism;
- Solidarity – one of the cornerstones of European societies;
- Involving resilient citizens in decisions that affect their lives.
« This call is now more urgent than ever. It is about the kind of society we want to live in and pass on to our children, grandchildren and all future generations », insists An Hermans, ESU President.
On the International Day of Older People, the German Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations BAGSO calls for older people to be respected in their self-determination, personal responsibility and diversity even in times of crisis. According to senior citizens’ organisations, the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced old age stigma. The older population has often been portrayed as a risk group per se in the pandemic. This promotes a one-sided view of older people as people in need of protection and assistance, which fails to reflect the diversity of life situations in older age.
BAGSO further insists that older people should be able to participate and help shape all areas of society. In that end, the german organisation calls on politics, media and society to reflect the diversity of older people. Differentiated images of old age counteract discrimination and have a positive influence on self-image, while also supporting intergenerational cooperation and social cohesion.
Read BAGSO’s full statement here (in German)
In a statement the Portuguese association APRe! stresses both the need for public social policies that protect older people’s fundamental support independent and healthy ageing and promote intergenerational exchanges of experiences and knowledge. In the current context, the association also calls for a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older people and for implementing the policy measures needed to improve health care.
APRe! is organising a national conference on 27 October 2020 in Lisbon: “From pandemic to inclusion” to deepen the reflection on the complex situations currently experienced by the older people and pensioners and try to find the best solutions to improve their living conditions, while keeping in line with APRé!’s motto: what is about older people has to be decided with older people.
Read APRé! statement here (in Portuguese)
AGE member organization in Spain, FATEC, denounce the cases of neglect and human rights violations experienced by older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has given rise to discriminatory comments and in many cases a disturbing discourse that questions the contribution of older people in society. FATEC expresses its concerns about the negative messages conveyed in the last few months depicturing old persons as frail, dependent, weak, unproductive, and merely consumers of services. The tragedy that took place in residential care settings was “the tip of the iceberg that has uncovered a reality that should at least alarm us”, highlights the Spanish senior organisation in a Facebook post.
FATEC therefore calls for policies that address the fulfillment of the human rights of older persons, to maintain and promote the equality of older people with all other citizens, as “ageing does not diminish the inherent dignity or fundamental rights of the person and consequently policies need to be adapted to the needs of an aging population”.
Gemma Carney of the British Society of Gerontology will launch their new book ‘Critical Questions for Ageing Societies’ this 1st October. The publication tackles the fascinating and important social and policy issues posed by the challenges and opportunities of ageing. You can register for the event here.
In Sweden, the visit ban on the country’s nursing homes is to be lifted on 1st October. The opportunity for SPF Seniorerna to share the testimony of Marianne has not been able to communicate properly with her husband during the confinement, and is now looking forward to being able to take him out for walks in the park next door. “It will mean a lot to him. There are a lot of birds in the park and he likes animals”, she says.
Our Greek member 50+ Hellas launched on 1st October a 10-day campaign ′′The value of time′′, in which they encourage people of all ages to remember what older people give and pass on to the younger ones: their life experience, memories, values, knowledge and wisdom that are part of our national and family identity. Read more in Greek
Our members in Slovenia, ZDUS, and in Portugal, APRe!, have helped spread out our message to mark the International Day within their network via social media, respectively in Slovenian and Portuguese. We thank them for their support!