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October 1—International Day of Older Persons

October 1—International Day of Older Persons

When we think of October, we think of Canadian Thanksgiving, turkey and dressing, and finally, the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.  I suspect that few of us know that October 1 is recognized each year as the International Day of Older Persons.  Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990, and first observed October 1, 1991, this day has been set aside to raise awareness of issues impacting members of our aging society. This year, the theme is: “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.” The sad reality is that it appears we still need to be reminded of the value and contributions of this large, significant, and growing segment of our population.  Ageism in its blatant and subtle forms remains evident throughout our societies.  Ageism refers to the discrimination against persons based on their age, and is often applied toward older persons.  Many believe that a person’s value has a ‘best before’ date attached to their age.  It is insidious, and if left unchecked, has a destructive influence on one’s sense of self worth, validity, and overall health. Intentional or not — the impact is the same.  Think about the birthday cards we buy and the jokes that make us laugh.  Think about the sales clerk or service professional who speaks through an adult child, minimizing and ignoring the older parent.  Think about our assumption that cognitive decline must be in play simply because we do not agree with a specific decision or choice made by a person of advancing years. I have personally made many ‘unfortunate’ choices throughout...