Get ready to mark International Day of the Older persons

HOLDING BACK THE YEARS: Maintaining a younger frame of mind is important to the wellbeing of older Australians. Start a hobby and take up daily exercise.
HOLDING BACK THE YEARS: Maintaining a younger frame of mind is important to the wellbeing of older Australians. Start a hobby and take up daily exercise.

WE AGE ... if we're lucky.

Everyone knows of someone who has not made it beyond mid-life.

It's a sad reflection that makes those who have reached the milestone of 60 reflect and show gratitude.

History reminds us of our own serendipity with ageing. In 1950, the life expectancy for the average westerner was 63 years; now, it is more than 80.

On October 1, we will celebrate longevity with International Day of Older Persons, established 30 years ago by the United Nations.

Fittingly, this year's theme for the day is, "Pandemics: Do they change how we address age and ageing?"

Coincidentally, 2020 has also been designated by the UN as the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife" in a bid to highlight the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons, with special recognition of the nursing profession.

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, International Day of Older Persons' main event is scheduled to be held online from New York, between 9am and midday.

The virtual event will see people from all walks of life, including academia and government, take to the podium and discuss roles and appreciation of older people.

In Australia, we have much to value in our older generations.

One in eight Aussies over the age of 65 are employed. One in five older Australians volunteered their time in the past year while grandparents are being increasingly relied upon to mind children while their parents are in full-time work.

Younger generations now see the importance of their grey-haired peers, at work, home and in the community.

But for those Australians aged over 65, keeping healthy and vital can become more of a struggle.

WHAT A LAUGH: Humour is a great tonic for everyone's wellbeing. There's much to smile about when you turn 65.

WHAT A LAUGH: Humour is a great tonic for everyone's wellbeing. There's much to smile about when you turn 65.

To that end, the UN wants to promote this decade as one of "Healthy Ageing".

Key goals for the UN over the next 10 years are to raise awareness of the health needs of older people, underscore the importance of the healthcare workforce in maintaining and improving the health of older people and, critically, increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older men and women.

For the individual, maintaining a daily physical regime becomes more important as we age.

It could be as simple as a daily walk with your pet, or regular gym sessions, or even water aerobics or other fun activities with friends.

Health experts are becoming more aware of the importance of mental stimulation and wellbeing to stave off diseases associated with older people, such as dementia.

Keep your brain ticking by completing the daily crossword, or sudoku. For older people who are housebound, mind games can now be played online.

Traditionally, capital cities have more services for the elderly than regional towns, although NBN and the internet is opening up country living to older generations wanting to escape the crowds of the city.

So if you are older, enjoy yourself on October 1 and embrace your age.

Challenge yourself to do something different and, in this pandemic, don't forget to keep your social distance.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, "We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing."

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