United Nations Principles for Older Persons

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United Nations Principles for Older Persons

The United Nations has established an International Plan of Action on Ageing and adopted a number of principles pertaining to the older population. 1999 was designated as the International Year of the Older Person. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the following principles for Older Persons on 16th December 1991 (Resolution No. 46/91):

Independence
1. Older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help.
2. Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities.
3. Older persons should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place.
4. Older persons should have access to appropriate educational and training programs.
5. Older persons should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities.
6. Older persons should be able to reside at home for as long as possible.

Participation
7. Older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations.
8. Older persons should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities.
9. Older persons should be able to form movements or associations of older persons.
10. Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society's system of cultural values.
11. Older persons should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness.
12. Older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care.
13. Older persons should be able to utilise appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment.
14. Older persons should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives.

Self-fulfilment
15. Older persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential.
16. Older persons should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.

Dignity
17. Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse.
18. Older persons should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.

The Second World Assembly on Ageing is planned for April 2002 and the international action plan is to be reconsidered.

Declaration of the International Conference on Ageing and Health, Portugal, August 2000:

“We, the participants of the International Conference on Ageing and Health, recognise that:
• The global population is ageing, both in developing countries as well as in developed countries.
• There is an inherent gender issue at all levels, putting women at a disadvantage.
• The majority of people who require health care are the elderly.
• The current medical education system does not sufficiently cater to the needs of the elderly.

We, as medical students and future physicians, declare:
• Geriatric education and issues regarding health care for the elderly should be obligatory during medical training
• More opportunities should be provided for shared education between medical students and other disciplines for a holistic view of elderly health care.

We call upon the international community to:
• Recognise the role and impact of the elderly and ageing population in socio-economic matters.
• Promote awareness of a lifestyle leading to physical, social, and mental well-being which are the crucial factors for healthy ageing.
• Promote and sustain the involvement of the elderly in developing adequate policies regarding their own autonomy and social productivity.
• Respect and facilitate the lifestyle and needs of the elderly as members of the community.”

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