Create a society for all ages

We believe that every older person should be able to face their future with confidence, reach their potential and play a full part in the society they live in. Every older person is a valued member of society who has the right, whatever their support needs, to participate in their families, communities and society, based on what is important to them.

We want to achieve a world where we are all recognised and respected as individuals, embraced equally, and treated fairly and without discrimination in older age. Promoting a society for all ages will ensure older people in their diversity feel connected and that they can participate in their communities as they wish.

We live in an ageing world. By 2050, nearly one in five people in low- and middle-income countries will be over the age of 60.

This presents significant social, economic and political implications for many countries unprepared for how ageing affects society. This includes changes in health and social care, changing income and work patterns and access to humanitarian assistance. The need to address these has become even more urgent as the world grapples with the COVID-19 crisis and seeks to regain lost ground in achieving the 2030 Agenda and SDGs with the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’

Older people around the world face ageism. Ageing is too often linked with decline and ill-health. Older people are seen as frail, vulnerable and dependent. A burden on society.

These attitudes and negative stereotypes have led to discrimination. And we’ve failed to harness the benefits that a socially and economically active, healthy, ageing population can contribute to society.

For many older people, being heard is a struggle – from making decisions for themselves within their family to influencing local, national or international polices and laws that affect them.

Older people are often excluded from being active members  of their communities. The places we live can make this exclusion worse. Public spaces often don’t meet the needs of older people (such as those with mobility or sight issues). A lack of age-friendly spaces and inaccessible public transport prevents older people from socialising and living active lives.

Older people are also excluded from civic spaces for engaging with local authorities and political processes so they can make informed choices. This can mean that older people are excluded from the laws, policies and systems that safeguard our rights.

Elizabeth Zondi (77) is an older activist fighting against elder abuse in South Africa. © Eva-Lotta Jansson

An opportunity

Living longer is one of the world’s greatest achievements. But to harness the benefits, we have to address the inequalities and discrimination that older people face.

Everyone, regardless of our age, should be able to make our own choices about how we live, including education, employment, health care and the social services we need.

Supporting older people to stand-up for their rights and be heard and responded to is crucial.

Gathering global data to shed a light on the realities of older people’s lives around the world is key to strengthening the fight against ageism and informing effective responses to older people’s rights.

What is HelpAge International doing?

We work with network members and partners to support older people to speak out, claim their rights and influence decisions that affect their lives.

To achieve this, we:
  • Work with Older People’s Associations (OPAs) to strengthen links with communities, service providers and policy makers and mobilise older people to drive change in their own communities. Ther are now more than one million OPAs with hundreds of millions of members globally.
  • Deliver training to establish and develop inclusive OPAs and support older people to engage with decision-makers and exercise their voice. We share good practice and knowledge to promote the growth of OPAs globally and strengthen the voice of older people at all levels.
  • Collaborate with UN bodies and governments to help develop policies that respond to the opportunities and challenges of ageing populations, and to this end, work in partnership with the UN to promote age-inclusive data collection and policies globally, helping to promote older people’s rights and track service delivery.
  • Support efforts to identify and remove the barriers that prevent older people, particularly those with disabilities and other excluded groups, from being able to access services, for example by promoting digital inclusion for older people as services in many countries move online.
  • We support older people to campaign against ageism and claim their rights via Age Demands Action  – our grassroots network where campaigns are run by older people, for older people.

Through our work, there are now more than one million Older People’s Associations globally, with hundreds of millions of members

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