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Future is theme for International Day of Older Persons

October 1, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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"The future we want: What older persons are saying" is the theme for this year's International Day of Older Persons, Oct. 1, according to the United Nations (U.N.).

The U.N. designated the observance in late 1990 and has been celebrating it annually ever since. This year's theme was chosen "to draw attention to the efforts of older persons, civil society organizations, [U.N.] organizations and member states to place the issue of aging on the international development agenda," according to the U.N.

A report released in conjunction with the observance focuses on health status, societal programs and other issues involving the elderly around the world. The Global AgeWatch Index, developed by HelpAge International with support from the U.N. Fund for Population and Development, lists several rankings for the United States and other countries.

“The continual exclusion of aging from national and global agendas is one of the biggest obstacles to meeting the needs of the world’s aging population,” says Silvia Stefanoni, HelpAge's chief executive. "By giving us a better understanding of the quality of life of women and men as they age, this new index can help us focus our attention on where things are going well and where we have to make improvements.”

According to the AgeWatch report card, the United States’ Global AgeWatch value, on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being ideal, is 83.8. The United States also is:

  • Eighth overall out of 91 ranked countries,
  • Second for employment and education,
  • 16th for enabling societies and environment,
  • 24th for health status, and
  • 36th for income security.

The employment and education ranking includes data on the employment of older people as well as attainment of secondary or higher education. The ranking for enabling societies and environment includes factors such as social connections, physical safety, civic freedom and access to public transportation. The health status ranking considers factors such as life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60, and relative psychological/mental well-being. The income security ranking considers pension coverage, poverty in old age, relative welfare and gross domestic product per capita.

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