The International Day of Older Persons [IDOP] is an annual event that is celebrated at the United Nations with a full day of education, networking and policy.

The theme of this year’s celebration was Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of Ageing: Empowering Older Persons. The program focused on the challenges and opportunities of ageing and provided an opportunity to discuss progress among stakeholders in implementing the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing [MIPAA],adopted by 159 governments during the UN Global Ageing Summit in Madrid in 2002.

MIPAA is the first international agreement to call for ageing to be included in national social and economic development policies. It also links ageing to the UN Millennium Development Goals, promoting equal participation of older people in the development process.

Since 2002, there has been patchy progress in implementing MIPAA. In part, this is because the provisions of MIPAA are still relatively unknown to policy makers in governments and international agencies, including the UN.

The IDOP provides an opportunity to raise awareness of MIPAA and ageing issues. Under the leadership of IAHSA Board Member Bill Smith, we have published an Issue Brief that outlines our commitment to MIPAA, focusing on person-centered care.

We believe that while quality of care is critical for elders, quality of life is even more essential. Person-centered care is a vital approach in aged care supporting the empowerment and self-determination of older persons.

We also believe that it is critical to bring this philosophy and practice of care and services to countries that are just embarking on the road to formal and residential services for the elderly.