Public Defender’s Statement on Day of Older Persons
October 1 has been observed as the International Day of Older Persons since 1990 in order to protect the rights of old persons and combat the population ageing.
Discrimination on ground of age (ageism) has been a particular problem in recent years, sometimes accompanied by violence against old persons and their neglect. Cases of discrimination and unhealthy attitude of the society create an environment that limits the opportunities of elderly people and negatively affect their health and well-being.
This year’s day is about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights and needs, as well as on the achievement of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.
Despite the fact that the international community began to struggle with aging problems decades ago, no effective measures have been taken in Georgia. The obligations defined in the Madrid International Plan have been somewhat reflected in the State Policy Concept on Population Aging in Georgia, approved by the Parliament of Georgia in 2016, though the document provides only the main directions of the state policy, while no national action plan has yet been approved for its implementation (according to the concept, the action plan was to be approved until 1 August 2016).
Consequently, there are many challenges in the country in terms of the protection of the rights of old persons. Most of them have no access to adequate housing, social services or protection mechanisms, due to which, they are under the threat of poverty, homelessness and isolation. Cases of discrimination on grounds of violence, neglect and aging are frequent. The existing state programs in the country do not provide alternative care services for elderly people and no needs-based programs are being developed; effective distribution of the existing resources and social welfare of the mentioned people are problematic.
The Public Defender's Office monitors the protection of the rights of older persons across the country. Most of the violations of older persons’ rights studied by us this year concerned social protection of these persons, which once again refers to an ineffective state policy in this direction and the necessity for developing a specific action plan.
The Public Defender once again calls on the Government to approve a national action plan for the implementation of the State Policy Concept on Population Aging in Georgia in order to ensure timely integration of the aging issues in various sector policies and programs, as well as proper protection of the rights of old persons. At the same time, it is important to strengthen positive actions aimed at elimination of ageism and promote inclusion of old persons in the society on an equal basis with others.