Editorial- 19th October 2014
Remembering the elderly in Society
The International Day of older persons was marked on October 1, on the theme: Leaving no one Behind: Promoting Society for all.
On December 14, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1 as International Day of Older Persons, to make people aware about issues which affect the elderly as well as appreciate their contribution towards society.
Reportedly, there are 810 million persons aged 60 years and above, representing 11.5 per cent of the world’s total population of seven billion.
According to the Ghana 2010 Population Housing Census Report, globally, one in nine persons is at least 60 years old, and the number of older persons continues to rise in all regions. The number of older persons is projected to reach one billion in less than ten years. In 2000, there were already more people aged 60 or over than children under five.
Currently, the proportion of older persons is higher in developed countries. In 2012, six percent of the population in Africa was 60 years and above, compared with 10 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 11 percent in Asia, 15 percent in Oceania, 19 percent in Northern America, and 22 per cent in Europe.
Africa, which has the youngest population, will have 10 per cent of its population aged 60 years and above by 2050.
Population ageing is occurring because of declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancy. From 2010-2015, life expectancy at birth is 78 years in developed countries and 68 years in developing countries.
By 2045-2050, life expectancy is projected to be 83 years in developed countries and 74 years in developing countries.
According to the PHC Report, the population of the elderly in Ghana has increased seven-and-half times from 1960 (213,477) to 2010 (1,643,381), constituting 6.7 percent of the total national population in 2010 compared with 4.5 percent in 1960.
In our view, ageing is becoming an issue which requires serious attention than it had so far received.
We are happy that Pope Francis will be celebrating Holy Mass in St. Peter’s for grandparents and the elderly. More than 40 thousand seniors and grandparents from more than 20 countries, many from Italy, Spain, Argentina and the United States, will participate in the Mass.
More than fifty elderly Priests from Parishes around the world will also concelebrate the liturgy with the Holy Father.
The Holy See's Permanent Observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, at the recent 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which discussed the Report of the Independent Experts on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights of Older Persons, said the number of elderly persons within the general population was fast increasing, and could double within the next decade, tripling by 2050, thus reaching the number of two billion older persons.
In Ghana, there are many Non-Governmental Organisations helping to bring joy to the faces of the aged but there is more room for improvement. Unfortunately, economic situations had made it difficult for children to give proper care to their aged parents, leaving them in loneliness.
The Catholic Standard congratulates Help Age Ghana, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of the Catholic Church and the Lepers Aid Committee chaired by Very Rev. Fr. Andrew Campbell, SVD, for the assistance and support they are giving to the elderly.
The paper appeals to individual families to help alleviate the plight of the elderly so that they could live longer while the youth also benefit from their wisdom and endeavour to pay attention to them in the areas of employment, family care and health. There is no doubt that most of them had been great assets to society and they need to be cared for in old age.
We call on government to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to promote the welfare and rights of the aged and also put into action the National Ageing Policy.