The picture is of Babs and Ron Lintott, taken just before their 81st wedding anniversary. 81 years! Ron was 103 and Babs was 100. Shortly after the picture was taken Babs fell and broke a hip and was taken to hospital where she died almost the next day. Although grieved, Ron told me it wouldn’t be long before he would be with her, although he lived to the age of 106.
Falls are often fatal for frailer older people, so it’s sad to read in today’s press that over 5,000 died as a result of falls in 2017, 70% more than the 3003 in 2010. The figures have been rising steadily. And sadly, the main rise seems to be among older people in deprived areas.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “The sad fact is that older people who live in poorer areas often have more complex health needs and poorer access to health, care and also community services that can help people remain active and help resilience.’*
It’s also difficult to get help from social care. Age UK’s research showed that in the 23 months from the Chancellor’s promise of a new Green Paper for Social Care, 636,00 people were denied funding, and 54,000 older people died waiting for it to turn up.
Last week MP Damien Green, who is drafting the Green Paper, suggested that people over the age of 50 should pay an increase of 1% in their National Insurance contribution to help fund social care. But this ignores two rather inconvenient facts: as longevity increases younger people are likely to reach old age themselves, so why wait until the age of 50 to start contributing? Today’s pensioners paid into their national insurance all their working lives. Also, the older generation is already contributing around £50 billion to the economy, in terms of taxes, earnings, spending and voluntary work, found research by independent economist firm, SQW published by the RVS .
Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better said, ‘Britain urgently needs policies that work for people of all ages and which tackle the challenges brought about by increasing socioeconomic and health inequalities. Many young people are struggling on low wages at the same time as pensioner poverty is increasing for the first time in a decade. This is not about old versus young, it’s about creating a society where everyone regardless of income or background can enjoy every stage of life.’
She calls for Local Authorities to commit to becoming age-friendly communities, and invest in community-based activities that bring generations together. ‘We must put an end to age-segregation and eliminate ageism in our society.’
Many volunteers in churches befriending the elderly in their communities are pensioners themselves. A deeply held Christian belief is that we should ‘bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.’ (Galatians 6:2.) I’ve met many churches and their volunteers, and believe we all need to pray for blessing on their work. Also, we are told to pray for those in government, that their decisions may not simply be expedient, but may be godly.