On October 1, the world celebrated International Day of Older Persons under the theme, “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions.”
According to the United Nations (UN), almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. “By 2050, two billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older.
“The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth.
“With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required. Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place.
“Human rights lie at the core of all efforts in this regard.
Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of ‘Leaving No-One Behind’ necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century.
“If our ambition is to ‘Build the Future We Want’, we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030,” according to the UN.
The 2018 theme aims to: Promote the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what it means in the daily lives of older persons;
Raise the visibility of older people as participating members of society committed to improving the enjoyment of human rights in many areas of life and not just those that affect them immediately; Reflect on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons; and Engage broad audiences across the world and mobilize people for human rights at all stages of life.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), indicates that mental health problems are common among seniors and may include isolation, affective and anxiety disorders, dementia, and psychosis, among others.
Many seniors also suffer from sleep and behavioral disorders, cognitive deterioration or confusion states as a result of physical disorders, non-communicable diseases or surgical interventions.
Research suggests that seniors benefit from supportive social connections and close personal relationships but suffer as a result of disrupted personal ties and loneliness, PAHO points out.
Similar trends as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO, are also observed locally by the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, and relevant stakeholders and therefore calls on all civil society organizations, families and communities, to continue to provide supportive services, mental health care and assistance to older people who are an essential part of the Sint Maarten’s community and history.
Older people should be encouraged and supported to actively participate in society at large which would benefit their mental health over the long-term.
Good mental health adds life to years, bring some shine and smile into the life of an elderly family member, your neighbor and the elderly population.