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Policymakers must ‘wake up’ to ageing

by on September 15, 2014

While I feel I wake up to ageing every morning, this is a more serious call by rather impressive list of organisations including Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anchor, Carers UK, Centre for Policy on Ageing, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK), Independent Age and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

They have come together to produce a manifesto called “Getting Ready for Ageing”, here described on the Age UK website which summarises the policy goals as follows:

  • Stop seeing ageing as being just about older people – if we wait until we are 60 or 70 to prepare we’ll have left it too late. That’s why the Alliance wants everyone to be sent a pack at 50 giving information and advice.
  • End age discrimination – legislation has gone some way to preventing discrimination on grounds of age but bizarrely financial services are exempt and hidden discrimination remains in many walks of life.
  • Stop operating hospitals on a model designed for the past – staff/patient ratios on hospital wards for older patients are often lower than on general wards, yet older people often need more help – e.g. to eat and drink.
  • Stop undervaluing the over 65s, who currently spend a massive £2.2bn a week and contribute £61bn to the economy through employment, caring and volunteering.
  • Stop ignoring the fact that many older workers are forced to leave the labour market early. Start building more flexible work opportunities to make it possible for family members of all ages juggle work and care for older relatives.

These are interestingly all negative policy statements – things that must stop or end, with perhpas less in the headlines as to how this might be achieved.   I am also not sure that they live up to their own advice – as I think they do see ageing as about older people, otherwise why would the discussions only start at 50?  With all the best intentions sending a pack of information isn’t really the birthday gift I am looking forward to on my 50th birthday.  Surely we all need educating about, for example, changes to the pension system and life long planning ?  Chatting to my 17 yr old recently I explained that ‘a pension’ is not the same as ‘a salary’ – not least in financial terms.  He is also aware of discussions about care for his grandma and the issues she is facing in her living arragements in her 80’s.  These discussions can never start too early.

Nevertheless this cross-group working, particularly the inclusion of those who do not usually campaign from a particular age perspective, is very welcome and we look forward to reading the manifesto in full.

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