One beautiful thing about getting older

I thought it was just me. But no, the entire world is getting old. Fast. Today there are almost 700 million people over the age of 60, but by 2050 (hold on to your bran buds, folks) that number will triple — to 2 billion. In a mere thirty years, people over 60 will outnumber kids under 14 on the planet.

80-year old Delores Jean Baptiste whose house was crushed in Haiti

Now, consider the fact that ¾ of the world’s older population lives in areas prone to disaster and conflict. And older people can’t outrun a death squad, flee a tsunami, or even get to assistance or food when it arrives.

That’s why HelpAge USA has been working for 25 years in 78 countries to protect the needs and rights of vulnerable older people. Aligned closely with established local partners on the ground, HelpAge is the only international relief organization that concentrates solely on marginalized and defenseless older people in crises. The ones you never see in the photos; the ones who are often most at risk.

HelpAge Darfur Mobile Eye Clinic

In Rwanda, Indonesia, Chile, Haiti and Darfur, HelpAge brings healthcare, relief supplies, counseling and shelter — as well as a creative perspective on what’s needed for aged survivors. Working in 12 campus for displaced persons in West Darfur, HelpAge has restored the sight of more than 7,000 people and treated 23,000 for minor eye problems; opened 18 social centers to build community among traumatized refugees; distributed more than 50,000 food baskets to the malnourished; and set up free donkey ambulances to transport older people who are often unable to walk to health centers.

Free Donkey Ambulances of Darfur

By restoring the health and well-being of older people, HelpAge empowers them to become part of the solution. “Older people have the institutional memory of the community and so much knowledge to impart,” says Marilyn Grist, Executive Director of HelpAge USA. “When they are given basic services, they can raise grandchildren, help grow food, and contribute to building stronger families and communities.”

Grandfather & child in Mornei Camp, Darfur

As Bette Davis once said, “Old age is not for sissies.”For everything HelpAge is doing to change the way the world looks at older people (soon to be me!) – from its policy work with governments and the United Nations, to its emergency relief efforts in Haiti supporting local people and using local resources, I’m donating my $100 today to HelpAge USA. Not a sissy in the bunch.

10 thoughts on “One beautiful thing about getting older

  1. What a good blog for me today. I woke up feeling much older than my actual age and wondering, “What happened overnight?”
    After reading this I’m thinking, “Suck it up and get moving. Look at these people who have to ride a bouncey donkey ride just to get medical help.”
    Thanks for your inspiration today.

  2. What a great idea, 365 giving, and what a wonderful group to give to, HelpAge. I’ve only recently learned about their work and I’m so impressed. You’ve picked a winner with this one. I can’t wait to see what’s next on your giving list.


    • Judy — Stay tuned! There’s LOTS more amazing stuff to come… thanks to my readers who are always sending me suggestions of people doing incredibly good work out there in the world! THX for reading – and yes, HelpAge is a fantastic org, recognized all over the world for its work!

  3. Thank you for drawing attention to the problems
    that confront the elderly around the world. They are disenfranchised, dismissed, overlooked and patronized: abused on a worldwide scale! Yet, if we would take the time to listen and observe, they
    will teach us the things that are most important in life. HelpAge USA must have great leadership with vision to focus on our treasured but forgotten older citizens around the world! I’m so happy to learn about the work going on there, and I’ll definitely support them in the future.

  4. What a magnificent article and organization!
    Leveraging all the wisdom and experience of those who have thrived and protecting those who are attempting to, should be a priority of all humankind. Thank you Betty for such a profoundly important article. I’ll be adding my name to the list of donors as well. ke

  5. Pingback: Betty’s 365 days… « Wondering Rose

  6. Talk about Kismet Betty! In your post today (March 25th) you wrote about the aging population and the good work of HelpAgeUSA, and quoted Bette Davis “old age is not for sissies”.
    In my post for March 25th I wrote about my almost 94 year old mother and quoted Bette Davis’s “Old age is not for sissies”… wow!

  7. Hi Ginger

    These beautiful photos are from HelpAge International’s photo library which is stored on Flickr. We have thousands more like this, of the wonderful and inspiring older people we meet all over the world.

    You can find the library here:


    And thanks for your appreciation and support.

    (HelpAge International)

  8. Hi B

    Where do you get these remarkable pictures? These woman exude such beauty. It is utterly touching and the statistics are mind-boggling. As always, thanks for expanding our knowledge of good in the world.



  9. Wow! I knew the age demographics were shifting with the baby boomers in the U.S. But, I had no idea the rest of the world had soooo many older people. What a lovely organization! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’ll definitely add them to my charity gift card choice list.

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