Last Saturday, the 1st of October, it was the International Day of Older Persons. This day is an initiative of the UN (United Nations) to get attention for loneliness among elderly. In many countries they organize a lot of activities around this day. These activities are organized to give elderly people a day to remember. This year the theme of the day was ´take a stand against ageism´, which is about discrimination because of age.
In Belgium they organize an ´Elderly people week´ as related to the International Day. The theme of the week, which takes place from 21 until 27 November 2016, is ´culture participation among elderly people´. Because elderly people participate less on social activities and are most of the time at home, loneliness becomes a bigger issue. That is why Belgium wants to make sure that elderly people are going to do more organized activities. In that way they are more in contact with other people and would not have to be alone every day.
In the Netherlands, they have the ´National Elderly People Day´, which takes place on Friday the 7th of October. On this day they want to fulfill as many wishes of elderly people as possible. In the Netherlands this day is organized by the National Foundation of Elderly People, but every community has their own committee. This committee makes sure that the wishes of elderly people in their community come true; they do this by contacting local organizations, care institutions and volunteers.
The National Foundation of Elderly People finds it important that not only loneliness among elderly persons gets reduced, but also that younger people have a part in that. That is why they pay a lot of attention to young volunteers for fulfilling the wishes of elderly people.
Of course is it not only important to do something about the loneliness among elderly people on this day, there should be paid attention to everyday. In some places in the Netherlands, nursing homes started a program to get elderly- and younger people closer to each other. They offer available rooms to students; who may live there in exchange for a few hours of voluntary work per month. The students prepare meals for the elderly, have a talk with them, go for a walk or for example go on a daytrip. Except the activities, elderly people find it really nice to get more information on what is happening outside, since they spent a lot of time in their homes. Besides that, they also just like to talk with a younger person, because they have different subjects to talk about with them.
On the International Day of Older Persons we all pay a lot of attention to elderly persons, but is that not how it is supposed to be every day? Have a talk with them more often or go for a walk. Our professional goal is to contribute to their well-being by the means of technology, but caring for elderly people will always remain a job for humans.