October 20, 2020

International Day of Older Persons -time to confront ageism

International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism.

This is the message conveyed to new Zealanders by Seniors Minister, Tracey Martin today as the country celebrates the International Older Persons Day .

What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to recognise this across government and in our lives,” Minister Martin says.

Seniors Day
Today is International Older Persons Day

“Like the rest of the developed world, New Zealand has an ageing population, which reflects more of us are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.

“This group – and I say group reluctantly – aren’t all the same. Seniors, those over 65, are 800,000 very different individuals with very different circumstances and needs.”

“However, many are still in paid work and lots of our seniors are people who look after others – their children, grandchildren, others in their communities – rather than people who need help themselves.

“…There are extra health risks with age, but not everyone over 70 is ‘vulnerable’ or ‘elderly’ and it’s certainly not how they see themselves, she says.

The Minister said New Zealand needs to think differently about ageing if we are to tap into the potential of the growing seniors population and to offer people the best possible futures.

“COVID has seen us behave better overall…Our progress has been because everyone, including seniors, did their bit in staying home and keeping others safe. Some over-65s were also the first to get out and travel domestically after lockdown and the Office for Seniors is currently working on travel promotions for this group to support the tourism sector.

“On the International Day of Older Persons, let’s remind ourselves that older people are our parents and grandparents and move away from casual ageism.”

By 2027 it is expected there will be a million seniors and by 2034, more than a fifth (21.4%) – 1.2 million New Zealanders – will be aged 65+.

As at June 2020 there were 88,000 people 85 or older –  11% of the senior population. That number is predicted to rise to 179,000 in 2034.

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