Last week, Wales became the first country in the world to adopt a Declaration of Rights for Older People. Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas said,
“The number of older people in Wales is growing and there is no dedicated set of rights for older people in the UK. Age discrimination and ageism are widely tolerated across the world.
"We must dispel old-fashioned stereotypes of people based on their age, and recognise and value the enormous contributions that older people make in all of our communities across Wales.
“I’m therefore delighted that Wales is once again leading the way by publishing a Declaration of the Rights of Older People in Wales.”
According to NewsWales, Older People's Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, worked with elders themselves to create the Declaration,
”...which has received cross-party support in the National Assembly for Wales, is based on the UN Principles for Older Persons and sets out what older people have said they value and what rights they feel would support and protect them.”
The Declaration is meant not only to help old people understand their rights in Wales, but to be a guide for those who are responsible for the development and delivery of social services to Welsh elders.
Here are the six points in the Declaration along with the fuller explanations of each as laid out in the document:
I have the right to be who I am
Not all older people are the same and I have the right to be who I am. I am a unique person and have the right to be understood, considered and recognised as an individual. I have the right to be treated equally and without discrimination.
I have the right to be valued
Because I am human I have the right to be valued. My life is significant to me and those who care about me, and I have a right to live a life that has value, meaning and purpose. I matter. I am of worth both when I contribute to society and when I no longer do so.
I have free will and the right to make decisions about my life
I have the right to make decisions and be supported to do so if necessary. I have the right to exercise my free will and make choices. My opinion is the most important when decisions are being made about me and my life. I have a right to be supported to live independently.
I have the right to decide where I live, how I live and with whom I live
I have the right to decide where I live and to choose the person or people to spend my life with. I have a right to be in my own home and with the community I love.
I have the right to work, develop, participate and contribute
My life does not come to an end because I have reached a certain age. I have a right to work. I have a right to full involvement in my own community. I have a right to thrive and to continue learning, developing and growing. I have a right to support so I can continue contributing. I have a right to explore new things.
I have a right to safety, security and justice
I have a right to be taken seriously when I am afraid. I have a right to information and advice that addresses my worries and uncertainties. If I need the law to protect me I should not be treated differently because I am older. I also have the right to take risks if I want to.
You will find the full document here [pdf].
A big thank you to TimeGoesBy reader Allan Moult for bringing the Welsh Declaration to my attention. I was, of course, reminded of An Elder Pledge which I've shown you before and hangs on the wall by my desk. Each supports the other nicely - declarations from government and from elders themselves.
The Pledge was written by elderlaw attorney, Orrin Onken. The poster is 12 inches by 36 inches and can be ordered from the Syracuse Cultural Workers website for $15 unframed plus shipping. There are also postcards and bookmarks of the pledge.
As the population of elders increases dramatically around the world, I hope Wales will not be the only the first of many countries to adopt such a Declaration and make it binding.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Reincarnation