International Day of Older Persons

Date: Sep 30, 2013

Tomorrow (October 1) is the International Day of Older Persons.

This was first organised by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990, and has been an annual event ever since.

The theme of this year's International Day of Older Persons is "The Future We Want: What Older Persons Are Saying".

It has been organised to celebrate the achievements of older Australians, as well as draw attention to the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Ian Yates, chief executive officer of COTA, explained that there are approximately five and a half million older Australians in the country.

He said they deserve to be treated with respect, participate in society and have access to "quality and affordable services".

"Ageism is alive and well in Australia," announced Mr Yates in a September 30 statement.

However, he said the country's age discrimination laws "are weaker than any of the other anti-discrimination acts".

That is despite the fact that more than a third of older Australians have been the victims of age-related discrimination.

Mr Yates illustrated this point by revealing that a large proportion of the "long-term unemployed on the inadequate Newstart Allowance are over 55".

He said that, while older Australians wait to qualify for "the properly indexed aged pension", they struggle to attain employment and many find themselves on the verge of poverty.

It's not only discrimination that poses a threat to older Australians, either. The rising cost of healthcare and property is also a cause for concern, and is leaving many in this group significantly out-of-pocket.

These challenges can and will be overcome, said Mr Yates, "but they require a co-ordinated approach across federal government portfolios".

He called on them to develop an 'Ageing Strategy', which would take "a whole-of-government approach to the ageing population".

Mr Yates concluded by saying that older Australians want to have an "active, healthy and productive life for as long as possible".

They deserve this, and will require the support of the entire country to achieve it.

If you would like to support your elderly relatives and help them to prepare for the future, you may want to broach the subject of estate planning with them.

This is an important part of getting older, and requires a good deal of thought and attention - particularly if you wish to avoid estate disputes.

If you want to know more, get in touch with the team at Craddock Murray Neumann.