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International Aging

International Resources

International & National Principles, Rights and Responsibilities of Older Persons

International Statements - IFA Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities - English


The International Federation on Ageing,

Appreciating the tremendous diversity in the situation of older persons, not only among countries but within countries and between individuals, which requires a variety of policy responses,

Aware that in all nations, individuals are living to advanced age in greater number and in better health than ever before, and persuaded by the scientific research disproving many stereotypes about inevitable and irreversible declines with age,

Convinced that a world characterized by increasing numbers and proportions of older persons must provide opportunities for willing and capable older persons to participate and contribute to the ongoing activities of society,

Mindful that the strains on family life in both developed and developing nations requires support for caregivers of frail older persons,

Emphasizing that fundamental human rights do not diminish with age and believing that because of the marginalization and disabilities which old age may bring, older persons are at risk of losing their rights and being rejected by society unless these rights are clearly identified and respected,

Recognizing that without these rights, older persons cannot meet their desired responsibilities,

Bearing In Mind the standards already set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the International Plan of Action on Aging, as well as the adoption of other declarations to assure the application of universal standards to particular groups

Now Proclaims the following rights of older persons which should be secured to them by national and international action so that they may be protected and enabled to make continuing contributions to society, as well as the responsibilities which they acknowledge:


Older persons have the right:

  • to obtain adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help.
  • to work and to pursue other income-generating opportunities with no barriers based on age.
  • to retire and participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labor force takes place.
  • to access educational and training programs to enhance literacy, facilitate employment, and permit informed planning and decision-making.
  • to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities.
  • to reside at home for as long as possible.

Older persons have the right:

  • to remain integrated and participate actively in society, including the process of development and the formulation and implementation of policies which directly affect their well-being.
  • to share their knowledge, skills, values and life experience with younger generations.
  • to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities.
  • to form movements or associations of the elderly.

Older persons have the right:

  • to benefit from family support and care consistent with the well-being of the family.
  • to obtain health care to help them maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness.
  • to access social and legal services to enhance capacity for autonomy and provide protection and care.
  • to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care which provide protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment.
  • to exercise human rights and and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care and treatment facility, including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs, and privacy and for the right to make decisions about their care and quality of life.

Older persons have the right:

  • to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential.
  • to access the educational, cultural, spiritual, and recreational resources of society.

Older persons have the right:

  • to be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and to be valued independently of their economic contributions.
  • to live in dignity and security and to be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse.
  • to exercise personal autonomy in health care decision-making, including the right to die with dignity by assenting to or rejecting treatments designed solely to prolong life.

Consistent with individual values and as long as health and personal circumstances permit, older persons should try:

  • to remain active, capable, self-reliant and useful.
  • to learn and apply sound principles of physical and mental health to their own lives.
  • to take advantage of literacy training.
  • to plan and prepare for old age and retirement.
  • to update their knowledge and skills, as needed, to enhance their employability if labor force participation is desired.
  • to be flexible, together with other family members, in adjusting to the demands of changing relationships.
  • to share knowledge, skills, experience and values with younger generations.
  • to participate in the civic life of their society.
  • to seek and develop potential avenues of service to the community.
  • to make informed decisions about their health care and to make decisions about terminal care known to their physician and family.

For further information, contact::
4398 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Suite 302
Montreal QC H2W 1Z5
Telephone: 1-514-396-3358
Facsimile: 1-514-396-3378