Welfare Minister: Elders an undervalued resource

Wednesday, October 1 is the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons. Remarking on the date, Welfare Minister Uldis Augulis said in an official statement that “seniors are our society’s golden treasure,” wishing them strong health and happiness in life.

“These are people with enormous life experience and wisdom. It’s from them that we can learn tolerance, endurance and perseverance in our faith through all of life’s situations,” he said.

Pensioners’ Federation chairman Andris Siliņš on his part stressed that senior citizens are the “strongest bulwarks of Latvian independence.” He also wished them endurance and faith in the future.

To mark the International Day of Older Persons, Riga social services centers are hosting celebrations with concerts, festive afternoon activities and creative workshops, reported the Riga City Council. Also, municipal libraries have organized public meetings with writers, poets, artists and other well-known public figures of advanced age.

The global movement for the rights of older people HelpAge International also launched its Global AgeWatch Index 2014 to compare how well seniors are faring in almost 100 countries.

Latvian media have been quick to report the state’s surprisingly high showing – at 35th place on the list that Norway topped this year. In the sub-categories of education and employability, and in income stability, Latvia had even better results, placing 14th and 32nd, respectively. However, in terms of accessibility to health care and physical accessibility measures in the public environment, older persons in Latvia had to settle for 66th and 68th place this year.

Estonia’s elderly population’s prospects listed 20th among world nations compared in the Global AgeWatch index, while Lithuania’s seniors faced a worrying fall from 50th to 60th place compared to the other nations surveyed.

Meanwhile, the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention (SPKC) urged society to remember Latvia’s senior citizens and make an effort to care for their physical and mental health, SPKC spokeswoman Laura Ševčenko told news wire BNS Wednesday. The Center launched its mental-health awareness campaign ‘Don’t turn away’ last month and used today’s Day of Older Persons to underscore its mission again.

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