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International & National Principles, Rights and Responsibilities of Older Persons

National Statements - A Charter for the Aged in South Africa


The Charter for the Aged set out below was developed by the South African National Council for the Aged in 1977, based on the experience of other countries having similar charters or manifestos. For further information, contact:

South African National Council or the Aged
P.O. Box 2335
Cape Town 8000
Republic of South Africa Fax: 27/21 232168

A Charter For The Aged of South Africa
The retired and elderly do not represent a small minority nor are they a social problem. They comprise millions of ordinary people. Their needs and talents are as varied as those to be found in any other generation and they display the full range of human character.

What they should have is the freedom and responsibility to choose their lifestyle, to have their views heard, to command respect and to be able to continue to influence events.

1. Independence and exercising of individual initiative

The aged should have the opportunities for personal planning and managing their own affairs together with the opportunity to make contributions to their communities throughout their lifespan.

2. An adequate income and standard of living in retirement

Ideally the individual should have an income which is adequate to maintain himself physically and delay mental and physical deterioration, irrespective of his employment capability.

3. Employment opportunities

Individuals should have the opportunity to obtain employment which is free from discrimination and exploitation by employers on the grounds of age.

4. Participation in civic, recreational, educational and cultural activities

There should be adequate opportunities for the elderly to participate in the widest range of civic, educational, recreational and cultural activities that are available to them.

5. Suitable accommodation

The community should have a responsibility to provide adequate and varied forms of accommodation to cater for the special needs of the elderly. The cost of living in such accommodation should be within the limits of their financial capacity to afford this.

6. Medical service

The aged should have the opportunity to take advantage of the full range of physical and mental health services irrespective of their economic circumstances, including appropriate hospitalisation and after-care when required. Health services should be fully developed to cater for the various needs of the aged.

7. Effective social services

There should be social services available to the aged that will enhance their independence but at the same time make provision for their protection and care when needed, including appropriate institutional care when required.

8. Life and death with dignity

In respect of its members, our society should make provision for self respect, respect and acceptance from others and independency. This should also include dignity in dying and the right of the individual to permit or deny the use of extraordinary life support systems.