Celebrating International Day of Older Persons

Overview

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons’. This year we are celebrating the many women in the older generation who have paved the way for health care.

Read Time: 6 Mins

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons! This year the pandemic threatened and changed many lives in the older generation, as health and shielding became paramount factors in potentially life-threatening situations. People aged 75+ were impacted the most by COVID, as over 50% of the lives lost to this virus fell into this age category. 

This year we also celebrate the many nurses and midwives who have dedicated their lives to health care. Paving the way for future generations and who have also yet to be recognised for their achievements and dedication to the healthcare industry.

Joining these two celebratory events together, we want to honour the many women in the older generation, who have contributed greatly to our health systems. While also outlining some of the ways you can show your solidarity for the older generation by protecting them as the pandemic continues.  

Health care heroes

  1. Elizabeth Blackwell – Starting at the beginning, Dr Blackwell was the first woman in history to “receive a medical degree in the United States, and the first woman on the Medical Register of the General Medical Council” (source). Backwell dedicated her life to medicine after a close friend suffering from a terminal illness confessed embarrassment and shame when being examined by only males doctors. Though her acceptance into medical school was approved by the student board as a practical joke, Backwell excelled beyond expectations ranking first in her class. Continuing to dedicate her life to medicine, Blackwell opened up multiple practices and later in her career, launched a medical school for women. Though Blackwell passed in the early 1900s, her legacy continues to change the lives of women within the medical field. 
  2. Roselyn P. Epps – Dr Epps was an American paediatrician and physician who was honoured as the first African-American woman to be president of the American Medical Women’s Association. Epps’ showed a dedication to learning as she majored in zoology and chemistry while pursuing her medical certifications. As president of AMWA, Epps advocated research, scholarship programmes and volunteer services that focused on women’s health. She passed in 2014 after writing over 90 professional medical articles. 
  3. Hawa Abdi – Physician Dr Abdi dedicated her life to providing high-quality healthcare, education, and shelter to vulnerable people, even in times of war and famine (source). She was Somalia’s first-ever female obstetrician who fought for humanitarian rights, equality and justice throughout her life. Hawa Abdi rose to fame as civil war changed her country. She turned her small clinic that she opened in 1983 on her family’s land to assist women in childbirth and to promote health care for children, into a fully operational hospital, school and home for displaced people. She saved and cared for many lives and will never be forgotten. She passed in August 2020.

These women and many more have changed the history and future of health care throughout the world. Even now their impact can be felt as we access and use many of the in-hospital treatments that we couldn’t imagine living without.

Elizabeth Blackwell, Roselyn P Epps and Hawa abdi pictured

Stand in solidarity for the International Day of Older Persons

Protecting our older generation during COVID is one of the ways we can show our appreciation and respect for all that they have done throughout their lives. COVID has shaken many families throughout the world and we need to safeguard those most vulnerable.  

How you can help

Aside from wearing masks and washing your hands, there are many other ways you can reduce the likelihood of COVID affecting your family. Here are 3 key safeguarding habits you should integrate into your routine;

1) Wash and change your mask – Washing cloth masks every day and changing your medical mask frequently reduces the likelihood of germs being passed in public places. Masks are held on tightly to our skin so try viewing them in the same way as underwear and change/wash them daily.

2) Wipe down groceries – Many germs can hide on food packaging or raw fruit and veg. Wash these products either in clean water or with a biodegradable wipe before placing them in your home.

3) Avoiding congested spaces – Though the rule of 6 has been implemented in the UK, avoiding large gatherings and overly busy places with no ventilation is the best way to avoid you catching COVID or passing it onto those more vulnerable. 

Recognising the barriers the older generation overcame to provide us with our current quality of life and safeguarding them against COVID are just two of the ways we can celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. However, until COVID disappears we should still stay vigilant in times of hardship, relying on our social bubbles to help us work through this pandemic. 

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