When I was first thinking about writing this blog in late 2009, there were relatively few issues in the news about the elderly. Then as the 2010 General Election loomed, all the political parties started very belatedly to discuss how the cost of elderly care could be funded.
None of the hastily cobbled together policies (discussed in my blog “Tangled Link Web” dated 11 April 2010) were robust enough to last and the inevitable political fudge after the election was to pass the problem to a Commission who are due to report in 2011.
Meanwhile, Bewitched by the avalanche of baby boomers rapidly approaching retirement age, suddenly the media is full of stories related to the ageing population. It is certainly time that the issues were discussed but the number of new policies now being hurried into legislation seems to be a piece meal response to individual pressures rather than an holistic and strategic perspective of our ageing society.
It is understandable that the Government is Bothered about the credit crunch and inevitable that the elderly will have to contribute towards resolving the problem.
On the edges of the debate, proposals have already begun to emerge. Free bus passes, free TV licenses and winter fuel allowances have been floated as possible options for cutting or at least reducing in value and eligibility. The biggest issue which will affect the upcoming baby boomers who are nearing retirement, is the decision about retirement age. This is like a receding hairline – 60 is becoming 65, then 66 moving up to 70 and now even 72 is being suggested.
Most Bewildering of all is the slowly emerging issue of “personalisation” which was intended to be a step in the direction of improved and individualised care. As the implementation date now approaches, it looks more and more like a financial cut in support for those in greatest need.
Maybe I have got it all wrong, perhaps a clear vision of a positive future for older people will emerge out of this long overdue debate. Right now I am sure I am in the company of thousands of other older people who are perplexed by all the proposals when they desperately need to be reassured and inspired. A longer life should be seen as a blessing to be welcomed, not an unbearable burden.