The number of older people (defined as those aged 65 years or older) tripled from around 260 million in 1980 to 761 million in 2021. Between 2021 and 2050, the global share of the older population is projected to increase from less than 10% to around 17%. Rapid growth in the number of people reaching older ages underscores the significance of promoting health, preventing, and treating illnesses throughout the entire course of life (United Nations, 2023). Facts of ageing
The Beth Johnson Foundation (BJF) shares the voices of older people and pushes for positive changes in our communities. We inform and influence the continuing dialogues around good practice as people age. We inform and support ageing communities through critically consolidating local, national, and international evidence and good practice. We work alongside others to promote equality, welcome diversity, champion intergenerational learning and ensure a creative approach to the constant innovation of service delivery and support.
We research, influence, and promote a ‘whole life course’ approach, acting as a catalyst for new initiatives that build resilience and promote positive ageing, specifically through life’s challenges. We encourage people of all ages to connect, challenge stereotypes and engaging with each other in new ways – for the benefit of all
Here at the BJF, our values underpin how we work as an organisation and as individuals within it. We are visionary, exploring international issues to inform local practice; envisioning striving for a fair and just society that places equal value on people regardless of their age and where age is not a barrier to opportunity and happiness. We are ambitious. Primarily we are a local organisation, and we expand our national and international connections by informing national strategies and policy around ageing. We are honest and trustworthy, remaining accountable to our communities, our clients, our partners, and our funders. We are independent, grounded in the local communities we serve, but with national and international ambitions. We use our voice to challenge and inspire change in health and social care services, public policy and attitudes surrounding those aged 50 years+. We value people of all ages. A mature community is one that recognises that all generations have something to offer and to gain by living, working, and learning together. Known as intergenerational activity, which we encourage and support wherever possible. We value partnerships; working with others, forging, and building relationships based on trust, openness, mutual value, and personal and organisational integrity. Engaging communities will enable us to shape our support to meet local needs. We want to see the UK, and Europe, become truly age-friendly. We envisage a world where people live healthy, happy, and fulfilled lives as they age; can access appropriate support when they need it; and continue to make valuable contributions to their communities.
The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030) seeks to reduce health inequities and improve the lives of older people, their families and communities through collective action in four areas: changing how we think, feel and act towards age and ageism; developing communities in ways that foster the abilities of older people; delivering person-centred integrated care and primary health services responsive to older people; and providing older people who need it with access to quality long-term care.
As we celebrate the International Day of Older Persons, #IDOP23 let us pause for a moment to recognise how the older communities influence our thinking; share wisdom to inform our knowledge; bring joy and love to our lives; and give voice to their experiences. During the celebration, at the BJF we will acknowledge the perceptions and voices of our ageing communities, as they challenge ageism, describe feeling invisible and share their personal experiences. We will celebrate the contributions of our volunteers (both older and younger) as they help older people to come to terms with technology in order to fully function in a technological era. We will reflect on those people with additional, complex needs as they grapple with (for example) the debilitating condition of dementia, and the need for dementia advocacy and support grows exponentially. We will celebrate the meeting of young people as they work alongside older members exploring pottery, painting, poetry and storytelling; the sheer magic of intergenerational working. Creativity often helps people feel less isolated and lonely, connecting people through different mediums using language, clay, and storytelling in meaningful ways.
Whilst we recognize the work we do at the BJF in supporting our older populations every single day, to recognize what we do internationally on this day of celebration helps us to truly appreciate the importance of our ageing community.
You can’t avoid it
But growing old isn’t catching,
Sit and enjoy the ride.
Professor emerita Sue Read, CEO, Beth Johnson Foundation.