For aging people, the ideal is "to remain within the family, with the guarantee of effective social assistance for the greater needs which age or illness entail," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in an intervention at the working session on 16 July, which focused on the elderly.
"Reflecting on previous sessions, it is evident―he said― that there are concerns about the serious gaps that exist in protecting the rights of the elderly, and that there is no agreement yet on how to address them. Some have spoken of establishing new mechanisms similar to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; others have underlined the need to make good on the commitments that States have already made on this matter; still others think that the Madrid International Plan for Action on Ageing already contains the measures we have to adopt to protect the rights of the elderly."
Certainly, as the average life expectancy increases, "it will become increasingly important―said Msgr. Tomasi― to promote an attitude of acceptance and appreciation of the elderly and to integrate them better in society. […] In this regard, it is crucial that we promote policies and systems of education that propose an alternative approach to the dominant 'throw-away culture' that judges human beings simply by what they produce. So often, the elderly feel useless and alone because they have lost their proper place in society." However, "this understanding of the value of aging and contribution of the elderly to our society―said the Permanent Observer―is one of the most important antidotes to the tendency to reduce the elderly to purely utilitarian terms. This is the only way to work toward a world that freely and fully respects the rights of its elders."