I used to follow the news avidly to keep me in touch with the ever-changing world. I don’t do it so keenly now because standing back in retirement the news doesn’t seem to change that much. The 24-hour news reporting produces an endless stream of stories that are repeated over and over.
You have to stand right back to get any sense of the direction of change. So below are some headlines from the last 12 months, related to older people. They are listed in random order:
“End of cash fares on buses”
“OAPs’ anger at plan to make official forms online only”
“Are you baffled by technology, ask a six-year-old”
“Dementia diagnoses soars by 60%”
“Common drugs linked to dementia”
“Cutting back on fry-ups reduces risk of dementia”
“Crisis in elderly care means millions face miserable old age”
“Elderly who go days without seeing anyone”
“Half of us not saving enough for retirement”
“Appalling level of care at home for elderly revealed”
“Lives of care home residents put at risk through lack of water”
“Fears over assisted suicide laws, by top judge”
“Old people auctioned off to care homes on internet”
“Cheers to retirement”
A host of headlines which echo the same themes on the issues of later life. Sadly, only one of them with a positive message. All the rest expressing doubts and fears about the quality of social care, the inadequacy of health services for the elderly and the increasing marginalisation of the elderly in terms of advances in technology. Add to this concerns about their financial security, loneliness and the approaching slippery slope of assisted suicide.
It’s no wonder that old age and old people are increasingly seen as a burden not a blessing. What’s more if we tell them frequently enough, they will inevitably begin to believe it themselves. The headlines are, no doubt, an accurate reflection of the way our society is moving but it’s a terrible indictment of the age we live in.
How do we turn these Grumbles into Smiles?
I will explore this in a series of blogs that dig a little deeper into what’s behind these headlines.