The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2016)
Elder rights are the rights of older adults (usually those in the seventh decade of life or older although this definition is disputed), who in various countries are not recognized as a constitutionally protected class  yet face discrimination across many aspects of society due to their age.
Common rights issues faced by elders include age-related job discrimination (such as forced age of retirement), lack of access to medical treatments because of age or age-related obstacles, societal perceptions of ability/disability due to age, and vulnerability to abuse, including financial, physical, psychological, social, and sexual because of diminished capacity and lack of access to/ability to use technology.
In 1991 the UNHRC General Assembly established principles to guide and encourage development of government programs that will protect older persons' rights by ensuring the independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older people. Upholding and protecting the rights of older adults is vital to addressing problems related to ageing and ageism.
With the rapid growth of population of older people globally, there has been international efforts to focus on issues associated with ageing and protection of the elderly in the past decade. As a result, ageism is recognized and studied as a global issue, an example of which is a survey of tens of thousands of people in more than 50 countries that revealed the majority of the participants as having moderate to high ageist attitudes. Identifying and combating the widespread prevalence of ageism is essential to promoting population health based on the growing evidence of harmful impacts of ageism on the health of older people.
As defined by Nina Kohn, an elder rights movement is the "collective effort [of] organizations and individuals... (coming) together around the common goal of transforming social, political, and legal structures to allow older adults to fully exercise their civil and human rights and liberties." The concept of a unique set of needs and rights of the elderly started in 1930s during the Great Depression with the main focus being on the need for a national pension program to provide financial security to the no longer working elderly. Numerous rival plans (the Townsend Plan, the McClain Movement, the Ham and Eggs Movement) were made to address the issue. Eventually, as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the Social Security Act was passed to meet the need.
As the population aged and the aged grew wealthier throughout the second half of the twentieth century, their political influence increased. Organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons and government bodies such as the Administration on Aging were created to meet their needs. Issues far beyond simple financial security became the focus – Maggie Kuhn, angered over her mandatory retirement at 65, launched the Gray Panthers in 1970; since its founding. the Gray Panthers have advocated for affordable, intergenerational housing and a single-payer healthcare system. Today, the Grey Panthers lead the Stakeholder Group on Aging, an organization it co-founded, which aims to create an international network of older persons and activists. The National Elder Law Foundation was created out of concern that elderly might have unique legal needs. The 2006 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act included a project called Choices for Independence to develop consumer-directed community-based (as opposed to congregate segregated choices such as traditional nursing homes) long-term care options.
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (September 2021)
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed perviously ignored vulnerabilities in nursing homes, particularly their risk of exposing elder adults to avoidable injury and illness. According to a 2021 report by the Human Rights Watch, over 178,000 COVID-19 deaths were linked to nursing facilities comprising up to 40 percent of total deaths in the United States. These deaths have been attributed to long-standing staffing shortages and resident neglect.
|1920||Civil Service Retirement Act (US)||Retirement system for government employees|
|1935||Social Security Act (US)||Old Age Assistance/Old Age Survivors Insurance|
|1958||American Association of Retired Persons founded|
|1965||Older Americans Act (US)||Established the Administration on Aging|
|1970||Gray Panthers founded|
|1970||Age Concern England launched|
|1974||Age UK created|
|1994||National Elder Law Foundation founded (US)||Certifies attorneys for elder law practice|
|1999||International Year of Older Persons|
|2002||MIPAA - Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging||The global policy document regarding aging|
|2003||Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (US)|
|2003||Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party formed|
|2010||Affordable Care Act (US)|
|2011||UN Open Ended Working Group on Aging (OEWG)||The UN forum discussing elder rights|