The International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), which falls on October 1st every year, was first observed in 1991, by the United Nations.

This year marks the 29th year of its observance.The purpose of the annual observance is to recognize the contributions of Older Persons and to examine.United Nations International Day of Older Persons – UNIDOP Theme: “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?”

This year has also seen an emergence of COVID-19 that has caused an upheaval across the world. Considering the higher risks confronted by older persons during the outbreak of pandemics such as COVID-19, policy and programmatic interventions must be targeted towards raising awareness of their special needs.

Recognizing Older Persons contributions to their own health and the multiple roles they play in the preparedness and response phases of current and future pandemics is also important.

This year has also been recognized as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. UNIDOP 2020 will highlight the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons, with special recognition of the nursing profession, and a primary focus on the role of women- who are relatively undervalued and in most cases inadequately compensated.

Basically, the 2020 United Nations International Day of Older Persons theme aims to:

1. Raise awareness of the special health needs of older persons and of their contributions to their own health and to the functioning of the societies in which they live.

2. Increase awareness and appreciation of the role of the health care workforce in maintaining and improving the health of older persons, with special attention to the nursing profession

3. Present proposals for reducing the health disparities between older persons in the developed and developing countries, so as to “Leave no one behind”.

4. Increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and its impact on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.

In 2017, Fiji’s older population comprised 9.1% (80,483 Older Persons) of the total population and is expected to reach nearly 20% of the population in 2050. This brings to reality the need to prepare ourselves for an ageing population.

Please cherish your elders, accord them the respect that they truly deserve, because one day you and I will also get old and one good turn deserves another.

We also need to appreciate those that care for our elderly loved ones either in our own homes and communities or in the Aged Care facilities. They are doing a marvelous job, please take the time to thank them, encourage them, resource them, or even volunteer to give them a break as self- care is so important.

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