SPECIAL   DAYS   FOR   SENIOR CITIZENS   2015
World Health Day: 7 April
World Parkinson's Day: 11 April
International Family Day: 15 May
World Hypertension Day: 17 May 
Pretty Things for Little Things: 1 June-31 August
International Mandela Day: 18 July
World Alzheimer's Day: 21 September
Week of the Older Persons in SA:  26 September to 2 October
International Day for Older Persons:  1 October
Grandparents Day® in SA:  4 October
International Arthritis Day: 12 October
World Diabetes Day: 14 November
World Aids Day: 1 December

Theme for the Year: 
60+ COUNTS

Week of the Older Persons in SA -  28 September to 04 October

During this special week, we invite corporates, churches, communities and schools, to partner Age-in-Action in doing something special for our senior citizens in recognition for the sacrifices they have made to build up our country, as well as honour them for still being a reliable resource in our lives today. Link with your closest provincial office and find out how you can get involved in this exciting and rewarding exercise, as it would be a shame to let this week go by without acknowledging our older people.


International Day of Older Persons -  1 October

South Africa joins the world in celebrating International Day of Older Persons on this day.  It is a time not only to highlight their valuable contribution to the globe but also to stress their basic human rights.  Many older persons in South Africa are unaware of their rights and how to enforce them, due to a variety of reasons - see the Rights of the Elderly.   South Africans are welcome to link with Age-in-Action to draw attention to this important day.  Many older persons are victims of terrible abuse and crimes and it would be a good opportunity to try and foster respect and appreciation for these special people on this day.


Grandparents Day in SA - 4 October

Grandparents Day  has been celebrated globally for many years and initiated in South Africa by Age-in-Action in 1996 to emphasise the role of grandparents in the family and give them due recognition. The day is celebrated on the first Sunday of October, but is still relatively unknown to most South Africans. The purpose of this special day is to link the generations which, in our fast paced society, is dying out.  Grandparents have so much to offer, so much skills to transfer, so much good advice to give – what better time to do some of these activities but on Grandparents Day.  It is a great opportunity for families to get together, learn from each other and really make our grandparents feel part of mainstream society.  Too many of them are isolated, lonely and depressed so why not use this day to bring them some cheer.  For those who do not have a grandparent, go ahead and adopt one especially for this occasion.  It has been proven to be most therapeutic for both generations.  Churches and schools can particularly play a big role in creating awareness for this event by drawing the grandparents into their programme on this day – even shut-ins.  Quality time of this nature can never be measured in monetary terms but it is most rewarding.


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - 15 June

Age-in-Action joined the rest of the world in drawing attention to the scourge of elder abuse and to break the silence.  The aim this day was to:

  • increase public awareness of elder abuse, i.e. what it is and where advice and assistance are available;

  • make the public more aware of the elderly in the communities; and

  • recognise elder abuse and take decisive action against it.

Over 3000 elderly persons participated in this awareness campaign - the oldest being 90 year old Mrs Lily Thomas from Phutanang Day Care Centre in the Northern Cape!  

 

The South African Council for the Aged was founded on 13 September 1956 in Cape Town, following growing pressure for government and the general public to form a national body for the aged. Initially the purpose of the organisation was to promote the formation of local organisations for the aged and to co-ordinate the services. The organisation, renamed Age-in-Action, now represents more than 2.7 million older people. The organisation also has over 800 NGO's as members who provide vital services to more than 150 000 older persons in need of care.

Read the Executive summary of the organisation's history or download the complete history (Word document, 621Kb) of Age-in-Action and find out what the people in the pictures below did for the organisation.

Chairpersons

   
Dr. Z Steyn
1958 - 1963
Dr. WJB Slater
1963 - 1980
Mr. ELA Folker
1980 - 1984
Ds. HS Visser
1984 - 1988
Dr. C Erasmus
1989 - 1995
Dr. H v d Linde
1995 - 1997
Rev D Lambrechts
1997 - 2007
Rev JM Phillips
2008 -

Directors

Mrs. Z Droskie
1958 - 1984
Mr. SCA Eckley
1984 - 2000
Mrs. W Bryan
2000 - 2005
Ms. M Mokholo
2005 - 2009

 

The Organisation is dependent on donations from corporate and individual donors to continue it services. Every financial contribution is greatly appreciated.

Donations that exceed R100 per annum are tax deductible in South Africa, under section 18A of the Income Tax Act.  Tax certificates will be issued on request for any donation more than R100.

Deposits can be made into the following account:

Account name  :  Age-in-Action
Bank                 :  ABSA 
Branch              :  Adderley Street, Cape Town
Branch Code     :  632005 
Account            :  01363190011 
 
Age-in-Action acknowledges and appreciates the financial support from their donors.
 
OUR LEGAL STATUS
 
We are a registered NPO 002 842  Public Benefit Organisation 930014308    VAT  4820 128 322

The purpose of this report on the history of Age-in-Action, is to provide the reader with an opportunity to experience first hand how the leaders in the organisation responded to the challenges of their times. At the end of the report, the reader will be able to judge whether Age-in-Action has made a difference in the lives of older persons in S.A.

In the Beginning

Age-in-Action was founded on 13 September 1956 in Cape Town, following growing pressure for government and the general public to form a national body for the aged. Initially the purpose of the organisation was to promote the formation of local organisations for the aged and to co-ordinate the services.

The Work Begins

The first office opened on 1 May 1958 in a rat infested closed down building in Change Lane, Cape Town. Mrs. Zerilda Droskie was the secretary. The first fundraising event was a street collection, generating 418 pounds, eight shillings and two pennies. The Council and its members kept themselves involved in addressing the need for frail care, accommodation and health care. Since the establishment of the first voluntary organization for the aged, the Cape Peninsula Welfare Organisation for the Aged in 1953, others started up practically in every major centre.

During the early years, the affiliated members of Age-in-Action in the various provinces rendered services on behalf of Age-in-Action. The focus of the work was to establish old age homes with the help of lucrative loans and subsidies from government. Age-in-Action was very active in lobbying for the first Older Persons Act passed in 1967.

Age-in-Action defines its Mission for Care for the Aged in South Africa

Between 1962 and 1968, Age-in-Action distanced itself from government thinking at the time. It recommended to its members not to develop homes for "normal" old people, but to develop community centres that will serve older persons living at home. Further, that more social workers need to be deployed to help older persons in need of care. In 1970, Age-in-Action published the first handbook on services to the aged which made a meaningful contribution to promote community based care and support. This vision was shared by many organisations that older persons need to remain in the community amongst their family and friends for as long as possible. Age-in-Action also advocated for community geriatric services, through a formidable team of health professionals. Local authorities introduced geriatric nursing services, mostly in Cape Town, Germiston and Durban. Eventually Age-in-Action was instrumental in the founding of chairs for geriatrics at the universities of Witwatersrand and Cape Town.

Signs of Transformation

Since 1964, some members of Age-in-Action raised questions about a representative organisation. At the 1976 Biennial General Meeting, a resolution was adopted condemning the disparity in social grants between whites (R35 per month), coloureds and Indians (R16,50 per month) and black pensioners (R5 per month). Resolutions in 1974 and 1982 at Biennial General Meetings were adopted that Age-in-Action should have open membership. In 1982, the Constitution of Age-in-Action was amended to remove all references to race.

Taking Care for the Aged to the Community

During the commemoration of the 1982 International Year for the Aged, Age-in-Action conveyed one central message, i.e. serving older persons in the community is the way to go. A National Plan of Action for South Africa was declared by Age-in-Action. With the opening of the first development office in Johannesburg in 1981, Age-in-Action put its money where its mouth was. Through the efforts of the development workers, a South African model for aged care was developed. This model is known as The People Empowerment Programme (PEP). PEP became the cornerstone of Age-in-Action’s work. It promoted local responses to the true needs of older persons through actions by volunteers. These actions manifested into tangible and sustainable services like providing meals, home care, home visits, income generation projects and companionship. In the process, luncheon clubs were developed and promoted. Demonstration models were soon established that were used to sensitise, train and motivate community leaders to consider these services for their communities. The second leg of PEP was to provide resources to the up and coming clubs. These resources were in the form of equipment, start-up capital and training.

The final phase of PEP was to establish organisations for care of the aged. Age-in-Action again provided resources, training and supervision in order to help the organisation to become sustainanble. In just over 18 years between 1981 – 1999, Age-in-Action was instrumental in establishing over 400 luncheon clubs and 140 organisations, which were able to run service centres, housing facilities or homes for the aged. A not to shabby track record I would think! There were unsung heroes that need to be remembered. The many sponsors who were willing to invest in the People Empowerment Programme. Amongst them were Shoprite Checkers, Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, Syfrets, Liberty Life, Donald Gordon Foundation, Beares Foundation, Engen, 3M, Nampac, JEB Dark Will Trust, Sappi, BP (S.A.), Standard Bank, The Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation, Price Forbes, the Independent Development Trust, the National Development Agency and later the National Lotteries Board and many more.

The Battle for the Heart of Age-in-Action

For government and its allies, it became clear by 1982 that Age-in-Action was serious about becoming a representative force in care for the aged in South Africa. It was specifically Age-in-Action’s defiance to open its membership to black persons and the appointment of six black development workers that was seen as a declaration of war.

By 1987, the strategy of government was clear, i.e. "use politically influential members of the Executive Committee to try to lure Black, Coloured and Indian leaders to go for separate councils for the aged". Black leaders turned down the offers. An attempt to bar black delegates from attending a Biennial General Meeting in Pretoria in 1987 was foiled at the last minute. So was the opening of a separate "white" office in the SALU-building in Pretoria.

In 1989, the battle lines were drawn. The enlightened leaders, backed by a number of affiliated members, stood firm that Age-in-Action will not bow before political gods. Dr. Cora Erasmus’ leadership in the time of crisis was decisive. At the next Biennial Member’s Meeting and conference in 1991, it was clear that Age-in-Action was reborn, with black and white delegates participating enthusiastically in the programme.

The Changing Image of Council

Age-in-Action built its public image through a marketing office. Innovative campaigns like Pretty Things for Little Things, Keep our Aged in the Community, the Golden Heart Competition, Safety and Security Workshops, the Golden Achiever Awards, Village Green Days, cultural festivals and others, made Age-in-Action visible to the public of South Africa. Age-in-Action’s television advert, "The aged are valuable, treat them that way", won the Plum Award for the best social advert in 1993.

The Executive Committee of Age-in-Action started to reflect the people of South Africa. Recognised leaders like Dr. Sam Pick, Mr. Cassim Saloojee, Mrs. Val Kadalie, Dr. Sam Motsuenyane, Mr. J. Vilakazi, Mr. S. Rambharos, Rev. J Mbabane, Dr. Henry van der Linde, Rev. D Lambrechts, to name a few, not only gave credibility, but enriched the work of the Council.

Age-in-Action: The Extended Family to South Africa’s Aged

In 1991 and 1995, Age-in-Action took the organisation to the people. Regional offices were established together with regional councils. This policy decision created the opportunity for local people to become directly involved in the work of regional offices. The regional programmes focused on addressing local needs by mobilising local leadership. Age-in-Action was no longer an organisation situated somewhere in Cape Town.

The outcomes of regionalisation can best be seen in the growing number of clubs and organizations being developed. The programmes of the regional offices were designed to build networks through socio-economic development. Good examples of these initiatives are:

- Poverty alleviation projects through economic empowerment;
- HIV/Aids awareness and training;
- Human Rights watch units;
- Management and fundraising training;
- Health awareness and education;
- Caregiver training and the development of caregivers in the community;
- Establishment of safe houses for abused elderly;
- Lending depots for care equipment;
- Cultural and religious festivals;
- Children’s education projects;
- Social work interventions;
- Sports and Recreation;
- Food gardens; and
- Literacy training.

Member organisations and offices interacted with one another through regional workshops, conferences or awareness campaigns. Local organisations were no longer alone in their struggle to survive. Regional offices played a dynamic role in supporting organisations to become self-sufficient by applying for much needed government funding. Training became the core function of Age-in-Action and this is still happening today.

Age-in-Action, the Older Person’s Advocate

From the beginning, Age-in-Action involved itself in lobbying for better policies and legislation. There were times that Age-in-Action stood alone in the battle against injustices and impractical policies. After 1994, Age-in-Action became a respected partner with government on policies, practices and legislation. This can be seen in the role played in:

- The Discussion Group on Ageing;
- The Reprioritisation Committee;
- The Legislation Committee for the Older Persons Amendment Act of 1998;
- The Elder Abuse Strategy Committee of the Department of Health;
- The Ministerial Committee of Enquiry into the Abuse of  older persons;
- ECOSOCC assigned Age-in-Action to conduct African Peer Review Mechanism Workshops;
- BIG; and
- The South African’s Older Person’s Forum.

The influence of Age-in-Action goes far beyond the borders of South Africa. Since 1993 till today, Age-in-Action has been in touch with international roleplayers. Age-in-Action interacts regularly with African countries. Age-in-Action’s work is also well recognized abroad, specifically its development model.

Age-in-Action was one of only a few national welfare organisations to make a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This submission spelled out the impact of an inferior educational system, job reservation, the Group Areas Act and an unjust social security system had on the lives of older citizens, specifically family support. Age-in-Action also apologised for neglecting in its duties to have done more to protect and serve the disenfranchised people of South Africa. The submission was accepted with appreciation.

Celebrating the Second International Year for Older Persons in 1999

Age-in-Action, in partnership with government and other bodies, played a dynamic role in observing this event. Over 450 000 persons participated in the Millennium Walk, while thousands attended festivals, workshops and functions throughout the year.

Age-in-Action embraced the international theme "Towards a Society for all Ages" and took the opportunity to re-examine its own programmes. The important role of older persons in the lives of the young and visa versa, started to manifest in the services. Today, many of Age-in-Action’s services create the opportunities to serve older and younger persons together – a re fana maele approach, which means we share and learn from one another.

Senior Sangala

No other programme which ran between 1996 and 2001 symbolised the new Age-in-Action so ardently as Senior Sangala. This programme, sponsored by the Department of Sport and Recreation, created opportunities for older persons to live actively. The programme gave purpose to hundreds of clubs by providing equipment, exercise programmes and training to remain active and productive, as long as possible. Many food gardens and income-generating projects were started. Every club had an exercise programme. Hundreds of stories were heard of how lonely, immobile and weak aged were able to start to enjoy life.

The vision of the late Steve Tshwete, Minister of Sport and Recreation,when he insisted that Senior Sangala be implemented, must be applauded today.

He saw older persons as torchbearers of the nation. "If their torches would loose its light, it will become dark for the young", he said. Many corporates supported the Senior Sangala programme after 2001. The National Lotteries Board still assists with the salaries of trainers and co-ordinators for Senior Sangala.

Some Reflections!

Age-in-Action has over 50 years become a true and respected champion for South Africa’s older persons. Age-in-Action has become a household name that symbolizes tangible hope, opportunity and support to older persons. Its programmes are trademarked as practical and sustainable.

There are enormous challenges facing older persons in South Africa today. These challenges can best be served through a bottom-up approach, the Age-in-Action model that has worked for fifty years.

Training and Capacity Building towards professional and sustainable services seem to be the best possible way forward. The National Qualifications Framework, provides the basis for Age-in-Action to embark on developing and presenting education and training programmes.

The People Empowerment Programme still has much to deliver to ensure the development of local service infrastructures. This work will demand much of the organisation’s resources. Older persons are carrying the brunt of the HIV/Aids pandemic. In South Africa, almost nineteen percent of all households are run by older persons. This means that new care and support models need to be developed to help the third generation parents to cope with the ever increasing pressures.

Finally, government, the corporate sector and Age-in-Action, need to develop a three-way partnership framework. This framework needs to make it possible for Age-in-Action to take its services to every corner of this country.

Dr Slater, in reflecting on the first ten years in 1976, said: "There is no time for complacency – there is still so much to be done".

In 2006, the Age-in-Action leadership should confirm those words and continue to convert visions into reality.

Age-in-Action is such a reality.

Grandparents Day  has been celebrated globally for many years and initiated in South Africa by Age-in-Action in 1996 to emphasise the role of grandparents in the family and give them due recognition. The day is celebrated on the first Sunday of October, but is still relatively unknown to most South Africans. The purpose of this special day is to link the generations which, in our fast paced society, is dying out.  Grandparents have so much to offer, so much skills to transfer, so much good advice to give – what better time to do some of these activities but on Grandparents Day.  It is a great opportunity for families to get together, learn from each other and really make our grandparents feel part of mainstream society.  Too many of them are isolated, lonely and depressed so why not use this day to bring them some cheer.  For those who do not have a grandparent, go ahead and adopt one especially for this occasion.  It has been proven to be most therapeutic for both generations.  Churches and schools can particularly play a big role in creating awareness for this event by drawing the grandparents into their programme on this day – even shut-ins.  Quality time of this nature can never be measured in monetary terms but it is most rewarding.