Senior citizens celebrate International Day of Older Persons

Councillor Suzette Little addresses the senior citizens.

More than 2 000 senior citizens enjoyed a day of fun and laughter at the Dulcie September civic centre, in Athlone, last week.

International Day of Older Persons on October 1 is designated by the UN. It’s theme this year urges society to take a stand against ageism.

People from Athlone, Belgravia, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Bellville, Kuils River and many other areas, attended the function on Wednesday and Thursday October 12 and 13, organised by the 63-year-old Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA).

Hubert Paulse, the organisation’s marketing manager, said the aim was to recognise the plight of the elderly, while honouring and thanking them for all they did for the youth.

Home Affairs, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the police, and other services were also there, and seniors had their blood pressure and sugar levels tested.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, said the elderly were often seen as a burden on society.

“This is not a new challenge. Stories abound of elder abuse and neglect as well as social exclusion and isolation when older people are considered a burden. This in spite of the fact that older persons make up a sizeable portion of the world’s population – a portion set to double by 2025, particularly in developing countries like ours,” said Ms Little.

The City’s home-based companionship care programme had been successful. However, she asked, “Why are so many older persons being left to their own devices? Where are their families?”

Society needed to change the way it treated the elderly.

“Ageing is inevitable, and it’s a path that we all have to walk. So I challenge everyone to consider how they treat older persons in their lives and how they’d feel if the shoe was on the other foot. The change needs to start from within, but until then, the City and its partners will continue doing everything possible to enrich the lives of older persons,” she said.

Mr Paulse said the event had been a success. “The looks on their faces were priceless. For that moment, they forgot about all of their ailments and issues while they danced on the stage.”