Rights of Older Person

Rights of Older Persons

International Federation of Ageing
Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Older Persons

In December 1991, the United Nations adopted a set of United Nations Principles for Older Persons, recommending that all member governments incorporate them into their programs for older people. The Principles are based on the following Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Older Persons (1) .

The United Nations General Assembly summarised the Declaration as follows:

'Add life to the years that have been added to life by assuring all older persons: independence, participation, care, self fulfilment and dignity'

These principles form the foundation of the rights focused approach to elder abuse that is promoted throughout this website. Go to the principles section for more specific information about these principals in action.

Older persons have the right:

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

Older persons have the right;

7.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;
8.to share their knowledge, skills, values and life experiences with younger generations;
9.to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions;
10.to form movements or associations of the elderly.


Older persons have the right:

11.to benefit from family support and care consistent with the well being of the family;
12.to access 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;
13.to access social and legal services to enhance capacity for autonomy and provide protection and care;
14.to utilise appropriate levels of institutional care which provide protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment;
15.to exercise human rights 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.

Self - fulfilment
Older persons have the right:

16.to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential;
17.to access the education, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.

Older persons have a right;

18.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;
19.to live in dignity and security and to be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse;
20.to exercise personal autonomy in health care decision making, including the right to die with dignity by assenting to or rejecting treatment designed solely to prolong life.

(1)Age Concern New Zealand (1992) Promoting the Rights and Well-being of Older People and Those who Care for Them - A Resource Kit About Elder Abuse and Neglect. Wellington N.Z