null Message of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary on the International Day of Older Persons

Creating and maintaining a dignified, active, autonomous and healthy old age, a social environment that is empathetic, shows solidarity with and supports elderly persons is our common responsibility. It is a question of key importance that old age, which has no exact limits that can be expressed as the number of years, should be surrounded by recognition and respect rather than stigmatisation, i.e. the stigma of weakness and helplessness. There is no successful society without building bridges between the generations, mutual attention, common thinking and cooperation, repeated Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary Dr. Ákos Kozma on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons this year again.

The number of persons over 65 has tripled over the past 30 years, their number has by now reached 761 million. Also, according to the forecasts, the global rate of the population over 65 years of age will grow from 10 to 17 percent between 2021 and 2050. According to the demographic tendencies, the global population, especially the citizens of European countries are gradually ageing, people tend to live longer and longer, old age is extending. 

The increase in the number of persons reaching senior age draws attention to the life-long importance of health preservation, as well as the prevention and treatment of diseases. Ageing societies should adapt to the growing number of senior citizens. A supporting environment is key to assisting older persons in preserving their agility and autonomy as age progresses. It is obvious that there are more and more active persons of older age who can convey their experience as employees, who help and support their families as grandparents, who pursue public activities, or do voluntary work.

On 14 December 1990, the UN General Assembly declared the day of 1 October of each year the International Day of Older Persons, which we could first celebrate in 1991. Ever since then, this international day has allowed us to draw attention to the importance of a dignified and active old age, the role of the elderly in the community and the family, as well as the question of their reintegration into the economy. The UN principles for older people were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1991. These include autonomy, participation, care that is key for personal living conditions and social policy, self-fulfilment, and last but not least, dignity.

The UN’s goals for the 2023 International Day of Older Persons include raising the global knowledge and awareness with regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as joint commitment to the strengthening of the protection of the human rights of the present and future generations of the elderly. Furthermore, it is another goal to review how the individual states could better incorporate the lifelong approach to human rights protection in their respective practices, to ensure the active and meaningful participation of all the stakeholders, including civil society, the national human rights institutions and the elderly themselves in the efforts aimed at strengthening solidarity and partnership between the generations.

Based on the specific statutory authorisation for protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary treats the cases, special problems and questions of the senior citizens who turn to him as a high priority, irrespective of the area that they concern. There are also such complaints which are not necessarily specific for older persons but they complain of, or request assistance with health care, social or other official or public service activities. In addition to this, the Ombudsman investigates, on the basis of a complaint or ex officio, the care and services provided to the elderly, as well as the related areas, more precisely, the operating and care conditions of those institutions in which persons in need of care, those who are ill, those who live with disabilities, or who are elderly, reside.