Tag Archives: older people

Don’t grow old!

When I was a lot younger I remember older people telling me not to grow old. Thanks to the NHS and better nutrition most of us live longer lives than our grandparents or great grandparents did, but greater age brings more health problems. At 78 I already consume a handful of pills morning and night, and tend to take a lift rather than use the stairs. I have a marked reduction in energy to do normal everyday things and often need a nap during the day. In spite of those constraints I am still actively involved in my local party and I volunteer and engage in creative activities (as well as editing Lib Dem Voice).

Occasionally people make assumptions about me – last year a car salesperson asked me if I knew how to use Google, and my grandson asked me if I knew what RAM is (even though he had one of my books on Computing on his shelves). I don’t think I’ve really come across deliberate ageism as such, but I could quote many cases of unconscious/institutional bias. The latter mainly arise because younger people just can’t imagine what the limitations are as you get older.

I was struck by some of the comments around the proposals to close down ticket offices across the rail network. Some older people struggle with ticket machines – these can be challenging if their eyesight is poor, or they have weak manual dexterity. Others find online booking difficult, if not impossible, especially if they don’t have a smart phone or tablet. Even once online the complications of widely varying pricing and competing train companies can stump some.  Most people want to remain independent for as long as possible – and that is good for their mental health – but these challenges push people towards greater dependency on others, or force them to give up travelling by train.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 42 Comments

Let’s stop scapegoating older people

 

Since the Referendum and in the reaction since the Autumn statement I’ve seen a worrying rise in the amount of abuse being directed to older members of society based on the notion that they are somehow groaning under the weight of so much cash, greedily demanding benefits, whilst denying subsequent generations access to the EU with their vote to leave.

I am worried.

We, as a society, seem to be lurching from one scapegoat to the next in a desperate attempt to blame anyone except ourselves for the state this country finds itself in. Whilst it is true that many pensioners have large savings pots, pensions and may have done well from the property booms of the 80’s and 90’s, others do not and find themselves truly just about managing. The exception is not the rule. Yet the generalisations seen during our last panic towards working age benefits recipients seem to be being applied to pensioners. They are all bleeding this country dry and something must be done, some penalty must be paid for denying the generations to come access to a European future.

Posted in Op-eds | 48 Comments

Of chocolate and jobs

Last month I visited York’s Chocolate Story, a visitor attraction in the centre of the city of York. A very lively tour guide told us about the Quakers who established the chocolate industry in York, and we saw how filled chocolates are made (and got to eat some) and made our own chocolate lollies (and got to eat them too). The other visitors included several grandparents, who seemed to be enjoying the experience at least as much as their grandchildren!

As the UK population gets older, the leisure industry has observed that we are becoming far more interested in acquiring ‘cultural capital’. Since 2009 household spending on recreation and culture has risen faster than total household consumption (VisitEngland, 2013). Older people, whilst more numerous, are getting ‘younger’ wanting to undertake new experiences and acquire new knowledge and skills – whether it’s baking, gardening or learning about history or art.

This creates new employment opportunities that we should be actively promoting.  Rather than working in yet another retail mall, young people can acquire knowledge that they can then share. Enriching an older person’s life is far more rewarding than stacking shelves or driving a delivery van. Of course there are concerns that these will be low paid jobs. However older people, whose incomes have been protected most in the years since the recession are likely to be able and willing to pay, and indeed this could be a good transfer of cash from the old to the younger generation.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 16 Comments
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