International Day of Older Persons: Theme 2021, Significance and More!


The International Day of Older Persons is a United Nations-mandated holiday that is celebrated on October 1 every year. The day is dedicated to celebrating the lives of senior citizens all over the world and to create dialogue about the problems they may face. 

In this article, let us learn more about how and why this day is celebrated. 

History of International Day of Older Persons

The day was marked by the United Nations in 1990. It has been in observance since 1991. Let us take a look at some of the major milestones touched in the last decades to ensure our elders live a happy and fulfilling life during their silver innings. 

  • The Vienna Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted in 1982.
  • On December 14, 1990, the day was marked as the International Day of Older Persons. 
  • United Nations Principles for Older Persons was adopted in 1991.

Read the United Nations Principles for Older Persons

International Day of Older Persons Significance 

The day is marked to celebrate the lives of our senior citizens. Within this larger purview, there are several aspects that we celebrate on this day. The celebration of the lives of our senior citizens also requires that we:

  • Celebrate the contribution of senior citizens to society.
  • Understand their needs and the issues that they may face such as providing health provisions and social care.
  • Consolidate our efforts as a society toward the well-being of our senior citizens. 

United Nations Against Ageism  

Ageism is an attitude that leads to discriminating against people on the grounds of age. The term was coined by Robert Neil Butler in 1969. The UN in association with the World Health Organization has been working very actively toward removing widespread ageism all over the world and also to eradicate the problems associated with it such as poor mental health of the elderly, loss of livelihood, lack of opportunities and such. 

International Day of Older Persons Theme 2021

The International Day of Older Persons Theme 2021 is “Digital Equity for All Ages.”

The use of digital technology has become manifoldly important since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. It has highlighted the importance of digital technology in keeping our modern world afloat. In light of this, the UN has selected this year’s theme to ensure that no ages or generations lose out on opportunities due to technological handicap. 

This year’s theme encourages the participation of senior citizens in the digital world. 

The International Day of Older Persons Theme 2020 was “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?”

The Madrid International Plan of Action 

The Madrid International Plan of Action was adopted in 2002. It sets out guidelines to monitor the problems related to ageing in the 21st century. The central aim of this plan is to create a society for all ages and to acknowledge their role in moulding the society with wisdom and experience. 

The plan outlays the guidelines to ensure socio-economic development and health care for the elderly. It also guides nations and communities on how to provide an enabling environment for senior citizens to participate in their fullest capacity. 

Read the Political Declaration and Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing

International Day of Older Persons in India

This day is also celebrated in India with great enthusiasm. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment plays a central role in taking care of the needs of our senior citizens. On this day, the Vayoshreshtha Samman, is conferred upon the senior citizens. 

Vayoshreshtha Samman

The conferment of the Vayoshreshtha Samman began in 2005. In 2013, the award was upgraded to a National Award and is given to senior citizens and institutions (in the service of the elderly) in India in 13 categories such as Lifetime Achievement, Creative Arts, Best District Panchayat in providing services and facilities to Senior Citizens to name a few. 

The awardees are presented with a citation and a memento. The award may be accompanied by a cash prize depending upon the category in which it is being conferred. 

Government Schemes for Senior Citizens in India

The government of India has also put several schemes in place for senior citizens in our country. Some of these schemes and programs have been listed below.

  • Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Scheme
  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)
  • Varishtha Mediclaim Policy
  • Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana
  • Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund
  • National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE)
  • The Integrated Program for Older Persons

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