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By Debbie le Quesne

Ageing Britain: Why getting oldere I not a picnic

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Elderly people gather in an idyllic woodland and settle down for a bite to eat, but the caption beneath this picture in The Guardian online tells us “Life is no picnic for many older people.”

And we are reminded too in an article outlining the fears of our ageing population that David Cameron once said: “We’re an old country – with our best years ahead of us.” Hmmm . . . well, that’s how he sees it.

Research, however, is not so optimistic with growing concern about pensions, rising costs, health and social care.

The survey for The Guardian shows that just 29 per cent felt the standard of living of older people in the UK was currently at a good level, compared with 46 per cent who disagreed.

The article adds: “And the long-term outlook is even gloomier: just over 11 per cent expect older people’s standard of living to improve over the next 20 years, against 79 per cent who disagree. Over 70 per cent do not believe older people’s overall quality of life will rise in the next two decades, compared with under 16 per cent who do.”

More than 1,600 took part in this study.

What emerged was a perception of a rich-poor divide – those who are financially secure as they retire and those who are struggling in their old age.

“One respondent is quoted: “Pensions are worth nothing, care is being cut back, people are living longer, jobs are going digital. All this, to me, adds up to a hideous time ahead, potentially, for older people.”

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) do not believe public services are working in a co-ordinated way to meet the challenges ahead.

Clearly, there are huge challenges ahead and the spin doctors’ work is not fining a resonance with the elderly. Good!

But what I find most sad is the fact that elderly people have a growing unease about their future.

In the report, Claire Turner, head of ageing society at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says: “There are some huge challenges ahead . . .”

Indeed there are and successive governments’ delay at not properly addressing the issues of an ageing Britain has not helped. As they say in the Black Country, the pigeons are now coming home to roost.

We need more joined-up thinking on the delivery of care, smart systems to make social care sustainable and most of all, some realistic funding.

The uncertainties of future as we desperately try to prepare for the unknown are not only found in those who will need care intervention, but those who delivery too.

I read that housing group Anchor has been spearheading a campaign called Grey Pride, calling on the government to appoint a dedicated minister for older people who could pull together policy on everything from pensions and social care to transport and discrimination.

In the survey nearly 60 per cent said that government should take the lead – something that in my opinion has been lacking and I don’t suppose this latest research will change a single jot.

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