A date for your diary – October 1st Older People’s Day
Posted by: Gemma Keogh | 14.09.15

Awareness days used to be a staple within a comms professional’s calendar. A creative event planned around a nationwide effort to improve knowledge about a particular medical condition or increase participation in a health initiative, was a useful way to gain media coverage for clients and ensure message cut-through.

But every other day now seems to be an awareness day, the days have increased to awareness weeks and journalists are quite rightly bored of trivial campaigns that prioritise selling a product over actual useful behaviour change. The most amusing example of awareness day overdose that I encountered recently was from a marketing manager who suggested that a care home celebrate National Beef Week to try and gain extra exposure. Go figure.

That said, there are still a few genuine initiatives that we recommend clients participate in, days that actually contribute to a much needed awareness raising effort and encourage dialogue and inclusion for marginalised groups or underserved causes. Older People’s Day on October 1st is one of those.

Even though issues affecting older people are increasingly in the news agenda and we now, as a society, are slowly confronting the challenges that we face and will continue to face in the future with an ageing population, the impact that this has on the daily lives of older people is still not enough.

Older People’s Day is a chance to give voice to the thoughts, concerns and aspirations of a demographic that are often overlooked, despite having contributed hugely to our communities throughout their lives. It’s an opportunity to recognise the value of older people and the benefit that they still bring to our society in a multitude of different ways.

Through dialogue and engagement the loneliness and isolation faced by thousands of people across the country can be drastically reduced and by learning from their experiences we can start to make an effective plan for our ageing population. What better way to learn about and find solutions for the problems encountered in old age than to ask and listen to the people who experience them?

Instead of opportunist PR, I see October 1st as a call to action, adding to the great work of other initiatives such as Care Home Open Day, in making sure older people are not marginalised, and widening the view of our society so that it includes grandparents and great grandparents.

I encourage anyone reading this, whether you work in social care or not, to take time at the start of next month and reach out to an older person that you know, talk to them and listen to their views, you never know you might learn something.