Change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing
Physical, social and economic environments, both rural and urban, are important determinants of healthy ageing and powerful influences on the experience of ageing and the opportunities that ageing offers.

Despite all the contributions and actions older adults have made to their communities and family members, there is still a lot of stereotyping (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) toward people based on their age, according to the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO).

Ageism affects people of all ages, but has particularly deleterious effects on the health and well-being of older people, the UN bodies said in one of its observations of the Decade of Healthy Ageing.

With the support of the PAHO/WHO, the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons was adopted at the General Assembly of the Organization of the American States (OAS) in June 2015. The convention specifically advocates for the importance in ensuring that older adults receive:

* independence and autonomy;

* informed consent on health matters;

* equal recognition before the law;

* social security, accessibility and personal mobility; and

* many other fundamental human rights

The value in these liberties were decided by experts from multiple regions and several countries have ratified this convention including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, and Uruguay.

The UN bodies said that adopting this convention promotes the economic, social, political, educational, and cultural engagement of older persons. For example, Costa Rica has successfully implemented multiple laws to further enforce these ideals. The "Integral Law for older adults in Costa Rica" guarantees that older people have "equality of opportunities and a dignified life". The "San Jose Charter on the Rights of Older Adults in Latin America and the Caribbean" asserts the improvement and development of the social protection systems to meet the needs of older adults, and the "Law on Penalization of Abandonment of Older Adults" ensures that persons who abandon and neglect older adults will receive felony charges. It is important for legal frameworks around the world to further advocate and protect this vulnerable and rapidly expanding older adult population in their respective countries.

Ensure that communities foster the abilities of older people

Age-friendly environments are better places in which to grow, live, work, play and age, which means an age-friendly community is a better place for all age groups, the WHO/PAHO said as part of the plan of action for the decade.

The WHO Secretariat and other UN agencies were called to extend the WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and other work to foster healthy ageing to ensure providing:

* evidence and technical assistance to countries for building age-friendly environments and ensuring that the most vulnerable are being served;

* opportunities to connect cities and communities, exchange information and experiences and facilitate learning by leaders in countries, cities and communities on what works to foster healthy ageing in different contexts;

*tools and support to countries, cities and communities to monitor and evaluate progress in creating age-friendly environments; and

* identifying priorities and opportunities for collaborative action and exchange among networks and constituencies.

The WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities currently includes 1,000 cities and communities in 41 countries, covering over 240 million people worldwide.

Just in 2019, 186 communities from the Americas were added to the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The Americas now has the most approved communities of any region and represents more than half of all member communities worldwide, with over 800 certified cities. The approved countries include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, USA, and Uruguay.

Membership to the network is not an accreditation for age-friendliness. Rather, it reflects cities' commitment to listen to the needs of their ageing population, assess and monitor their age-friendliness and work collaboratively with older people and across sectors to create age-friendly physical and social environments. Membership is also a commitment to share experience, achievements and lessons learnt with other cities and communities.

Ageism affects people of all ages, but has particularly deleterious effects on the health and well-being of older people.

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