U.N. Reminds Us What’s at Stake as We Collectively Respond to COVID-19

By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
May 20, 2020

In case you missed it among the crush of emails, text messages, webinars, etc., over the past two weeks, I encourage you to take three minutes to watch a message from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres as he lays out key tenets of how we should respond globally to the rash of ageism confronting us during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He gave a video address emphasizing that our response to COVID-19 must respect the rights and dignity of older people. I applaud Guterres and the U.N. for providing a steady voice of advocacy as we continue to see ageist attitudes exposed toward older adults in this time of crisis. At every level of society, we must respond.

The secretary-general’s message was shared as the U.N. launched a new policy brief, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Older Persons.” This follows a recent issue brief, “Older Persons and COVID-19.” These resources show how the pandemic presents a disproportionate threat to the health, lives, rights and well-being of older persons, and also shows how we have an opportunity to take steps to create a more age-friendly society moving forward. They make it clear that everyone must be a stakeholder, including governments businesses, communities, friends, and family.

As I said in my most recent Gerontology News column, I’m hopeful that this historic time will result in a new mindset about aging and a transformation of the ageism embedded in our culture. GSA will continue to be a positive force in achieving this. I encourage you to check out the newly released recording of our recent webinar, “Reframing the Response to COVID-19: Applying Reframed Language to Counteract Ageism."