The United Nations International Day of Older Persons


       ”Honor the elderly, never mock them. They were once like you and you will become like them’.

(A Swedish adage)

       ”Don’t bite the hand that gives you food’

(An African Proverb)

The year 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP).

This year’s observance aims (to):

• Inform participants about the strategic objectives for the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030).

• Raise awareness of the special health needs of older persons and of their contributions to their own health and to the functioning of the societies in which they live.

• Increase awareness and appreciation of the role of the health care workforce in maintaining and improving the health of older persons,

with special attention to the nursing profession

• Present proposals for reducing the health disparities between older persons in the developed and developing countries, so as to “Leave no one behind”.

• Increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and its impact on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.

With the rapid growth of older persons in Africa and Ghana,it has become necessary to pay attention to studies related to ageing.

According to reports by United Nations (2017) and WHO (2018) Ghana has an estimated older adult population (i.e. 60 years and above) of 7.1% in 2015,

an increase from 4.5% in 1960.

This proportion is projected to rise to 9.8% (i.e. about 5 million) by 2050. Recent studies among older adults in Ghana report a

high prevalence of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and cataract along with substantial prevalence of geriatric-specific conditions

such as falls and mobility disorders, urinary incontinence, and cognitive impairment. 

There is increasing isolation and neglect of older adults as a result of migration of the youth from rural areas to seek better jobs in urban centres and abroad.

Covid-19 has worsened the social isolation of older adults and threatened their health status. Perceptions toward older adults in Ghana have become infused with negative attitudes

. Ageism is prevalent, especially against the frail female older adult who is single, poor, uneducated, and experiencing some cognitive impairment.

Until recently, there were no centres or institutions aimed at ageing studies in Ghana or the sub-region.

The Centre for Ageing Studies (CFAS) at the University of Ghana is the first of its kind in the sub-region.

The Centre comprises of an interdisciplinary group of faculties with teaching and research interest in issues related to ageing and the aged.

The Centre also aims at providing resource for healthy ageing, conduct cutting-edge research and provide training in ageing studies. CFAS,

celebrates United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP) every 1st October, as part of its major activities, bringing together stakeholders like academics /researchers,

health professionals, caregivers, social workers, religious institutions, governmental/non-governmental institutions and older persons in the Ghanaian society to discuss and

implement national strategies and action plans on ageing. The Centre is also collaborating with the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in the training of

medical doctors in the specialty of Geriatric Medicine.

As we celebrate another milestone in recognition of our older adults, the Centre wishes to recommend the following:

• The youth in our society should pay more careful attention to older adults and provide them with the social, material,

and spiritual support to the best of their abilities, recognizing that someday they will also become old.

• In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we encourage all older adults to strictly adhere to the WHO/Ghana Health Service protocols and directives to fight the disease.

Caregivers at individual homes and in institutionalized adult nursing homes must likewise exercise strict infection prevention protocols in providing care.

Churches and religious organizations should find innovative ways to meet the spiritual and psychosocial needs of their older adults who have been excluded from congregational worship.

• Finally, CFAS adds its voice to the voices of other stakeholders to strongly appeal to our Government and our Parliament to pay urgent attention to the Aged Persons’ Bill and pass it into law.

The law will provide the overarching guidelines to the holistic care of the older population.

The major political parties have made promises regarding the aged in their manifestos. The Centre and indeed, all stakeholders therefore look forward to the manifestation of these promises.

As we celerate the day, the Centre for Ageing Studies at Legon, wishes to congratulate all older adults in Ghana and prays that they age in security and dignity.

Professor C. Charles Mate-Kole

Director, Centre for Ageing Studies

University of Ghana.

+233-(0) 596024441

1st October 2020