When you look back on the international initiatives to deal with ageing you can find a good measure of resolve, but it is more difficult to see sufficiently strong achievements. The world starting to look at the challenges of ageing back in the 1960’s and 1970’s some four to five decades ago and yet even whilst they were able to see the disruption coming our way governments appear to have paid insufficient head to the problem. Only when reality has dawned has the international community started to seriously look issues. Demographics and ageing that could have been smoothed will in the event be massively disruptive to the next fifty years across the developed and emerging world.
An article by Elena Milova from the Life Extension Advocacy (27-4-2017) foundation gives a good overview of the timeline of the global agencies attempts to address the issues of ageing. As Elena point out, ageing was first recognized as a global challenge back in 1968, when the Malta government brought the demographic changes to the attention of the United Nations.
The first major international initiative to deal with the ageing issue was the First World Assembly on Ageing held in 1982 in Vienna. The assembly’s final paper came up with 62 points that included mechanisms and policies that were generally integrated into actions plans by many UN nations.
Interestingly many of the issues highlighted at the first assembly are still unresolved today and for sure have not been addressed seriously enough by governments. In essence known future disruptions to the economic and social wellbeing of the world were talked about but have been insufficiently addressed. For example the draft plan drew attention to the need to reduce the cost of social service and healthcare systems. Yet in many western countries the costs of healthcare and social services have increased sharply in recent years.
The final paper of the First Assembly, although somewhat dated, still provides a good list of needed initiatives to address the challenges of ageing. Such initiatives include
- Educational programs aimed specifically at older generation to maintain cognitive ability.
- Eradicating the age bias of employers
- Encouraging part-time work or voluntary work to keep the older generation economically active
- Encourage social services to support families coping with older persons in their care.
- Urban development to provide adequate and affordable housing for the elderly
- Facilitation of medications and prosthetics to prolong their active and independent life.
A Second World Assembly on Ageing was held in Madrid in 2002. The assembly’s work was divided into three primary thematic areas and the report highlighted 19 articles that formed a political declaration.
The three thematic areas were as follows
- Help Member States to develop and implement policies on ageing by providing practical recommendations based on national-level experience;
- Promote an age-integrated approach to the analysis and design of national policies and programs;
- Expand the technical assistance provided by the Division for Social Policy and Development for implementing policies on ageing to a wider number of countries by sharing experience and capacity building case studies.
The three priority areas that came out of the Assembly were
- The development of old persons,
- The advancement of health and well-being in old age
- To ensure the elderly are provided a supportive environment
This article was attributed and provided by PG International