On Sunday, we will join communities around the world in observing the International Day of Older Persons. October 1 was designated by the United Nations in 1990 to recognize the vital contributions of older people globally and to encourage member nations to thoughtfully address their increasingly aging populations.
This year, the United Nations has designated the 2017 International Day of Older Persons theme as, “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.” This topic highlights the benefits that come with supporting the full inclusion of older adults in their communities, workplaces, and families.
Older adults’ contributions to our society are many, because they play multiple roles. They are grandparents, parents, great aunts and uncles; they are friends and mentors; they are community leaders and volunteers; they are also elected officials, and critical contributors in the workforce. Clearly, our communities are stronger when everyone has the opportunity to contribute their talents.
Helping to make that possible is at the core of everything we do at the Administration for Community Living. ACL was created around the fundamental principle that older adults and people with disabilities of all ages should be able to live independently and participate fully in their communities. To that end, ACL advocates for older adults, people of all ages with disabilities, and the people who support them; funds a wide range of services and supports provided by networks of community-based organizations; and invests in research and innovation.
ACL programs provide support to caregivers, many of whom are older adults themselves; help older adults manage chronic health conditions, remain physically active, and preserve their overall health; support states in protecting rights and preventing abuse; help older adults maintain control of their own lives, even if they need assistance with some tasks; and much more.
In the U.S., 10,000 adults turn 65 every day. Globally, the number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050. We must all work together: in our communities, across the nation, and in partnership with other countries, to promote policies that recognize and make use of the experience and capabilities of this growing population. This is particularly true as people are living longer and staying healthier for more of those years.
On this year’s International Day of Older Persons, and every day going forward, let’s make a committed effort to ensure that every person has the opportunity fully participate in their communities, throughout their lives.