International Day of the Older Person

Elderly people can be viewed as a ‘treasure chest’ filled with wisdom, precious life experiences and a wealth of knowledge. We are blessed to have them in our families, neighbourhoods and communities. They play a significant role in motivating us to do better in our lives, steering us in the right direction and warning us of possible dangers we might otherwise be oblivious to.

Unfortunately, in our fast-paced world with our busy life schedules, we very often tend to neglect the value of these true gems in our lives. The 1st of October each year marks the International Day of Older Persons. The purpose is quite simply to raise awareness about the various issues affecting elderly people particularly in the realm of adequate health provisions and social care for older persons.

The 2021 theme “Digital Equity for All Ages” reinforces the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons. Technology for older people can be a helpful resource that improves their quality of life and connection with the wider world. In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, using technology to communicate with older people has never been more important. With loneliness on the rise among older people and families spread further apart, communicating through technology – such as WhatsApp video calling or instant messaging for desktop or mobile devices – can act as a useful improvisation when meeting up just isn’t possible. At PADCA these forms of communications between residents and families are always promoted, encouraged and enabled by relevant care and social work staff.

Use communications technology to help combat loneliness by planning convenient ways to stay in touch with your elderly family members regularly. Enrich their lives by involving them in those every day magical moments such as getting to know their grandchildren. Use it as a means to gain peace of mind that they are safe, healthy and happy. Where possible find equipment that can be easily used by older people. And lastly, adjust settings on devices to make communicating easier for people with visual or hearing impairments.

In order to help your elderly family member get the most out of communications technology, make sure you: explain its importance, provide clear instructions and guidance, demonstrate how it is used and finally set up the device.

Older people want assistance, but they also care greatly about independence and dignity. It is better to help support and respect the ways they already use technological devices and build upon these. Ultimately the key to helping older people in social isolation is not so much the technological devices used, but making yourself available for regular and meaningful communication. This International Day of Older Persons honour the real gems of your ‘treasure chests’ and keep the communication flowing.

Written by Nevashni Chetty – Social Work Manager