Several national and international organizations have adopted principles and frameworks to guide policies and programs for older adults. These are not specifically related to the law, and tend to be broad and general in approach, but point to underlying tensions, themes and concerns that a legal framework may address.
In 1991, in pursuance of the International Plan of Action on Ageing,[10] the United Nations adopted its Principles for Older Persons.[11] In order to allow for applicability across a wide range of cultures and circumstances, these Principles are broad and general in scope. The Principles recognize the contributions that older persons make to their societies, appreciate the diversity of older persons, and acknowledge the many stereotypes about aging and older persons. The Principles encourage governments, whenever possible, to incorporate into their national programs for older persons the five principles of:
  • independence (including opportunities to work and access education, and an adequate standard of living),
  • participation (including integration in society, and opportunities to shape policies and serve the community),
  • care (including access to health and institutional care, and to legal and social services, as well as respect for human rights and freedoms)
  • self-fulfilment (including access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources) and
  • dignity (including the right to fair treatment and to be free of exploitation or abuse).
Canada’s National Framework on Aging (NFA) adopts principles that are similar, but not identical. The NFA was developed by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors, in consultation with the community. The NFA provides a voluntary framework for policy planners, decision-makers and other stakeholders in designing and reviewing policies and programs for older Canadians. The NFA recognizes three interdependent goals of promoting the well-being of older persons, recognizing their valuable contributions and eliminating ageism. The NFA promotes the five principles of:
  • dignity (including respect for the contributions, accomplishments, aspirations, rights and privacy of older persons),
  • independence (including the ability to control one’s own life and make one’s own choices, and having access to a support system that enables freedom of choice and self-determination),
  • participation (including taking part in the community, being consulted, having a meaningful role, and participating in available programs and services),
  • fairness (including having the real needs of older persons considered equally to those of other Canadians, freedom from discrimination, and being treated in a way that maximizes inclusion) and
  • security (including access to an adequate income, a safe and supportive living environment, family and friends, and appropriate supports).
The World Health Organization has adopted for its work an Active Ageing Policy Framework. This framework emphasizes both interdependence and intergenerational solidarity, and aims to ensure that
people can realize their potential for physical, social and mental well-being throughout the life course, and to participate in society according to their needs, desires and capacities, while providing them with adequate protection, security, and care when they require assistance. [12]
Question 2: What principles and goals should guide the law as it affects older persons?