Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Longetivity is in the News

Younger people must be fed up with us older ones – certainly if they listen to the U.K. radio and buy newspapers. There was an excellent article in The Guardian a few days ago about Care homes. The author made the mistake of stating that old people go to such homes ‘to die’. There is a chorus of protests about that slick simplicity in the paper today. One writer says people go to care homes to be cared for and to continue living, not to die.

There has been remarkable coverage of the death of Henry Allingham last Saturday. A first world way veteran, at 113 years of age he was the world’s oldest man. He became a celebrity in his latter years. Responsible for having had six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great-grandchild gives him fame even without the military connection. Walter Cronkite, the respected CBS News journalist for many years has died at 92. A typically British news story this week has been about the golfer Tom Watson who didn’t quite win the Open Championship, but became everyone’s hero because of his age at 59.

The anodyne TV programme (i.e. I don’t like it!) ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ has just lost one of its judges, Arlene Phillips who at 66 has been replaced by someone 36 years younger. Age is suspected to be the reason. And there is the continuing criticism from all quarters that compulsory retirement is a social injustice. I have read that when the pensionable age of 65 was decided upon, only 20% of people lived beyond that age, now its 80%. Apparently the US stopped having a compulsory retirement age some years ago; when shall we do the same?

But if, as is claimed, there will soon be more people over 65 in the U.K. than children under 5, what about young people as they grow up into a society of the seriously mature? I’ve read a blog on another website where the correspondent agrees with anti-age discrimination, but says that ‘younger people were promised they could enter the workforce with a lot of opportunities waiting for them as the baby-boomers would slowly leave the market en masse to retire. Instead, they now have to face a market saturated with people over 65 who want to remain at work - because they're too poor not to’. What can we do about correcting an injustice by creating another one, the writer asks? Indeed.

Amongst all the huge and multiple problems that surround us and make politics an increasingly difficult and perhaps even impossible art, the consequences of ageing populations for people of whatever age, takes it’s necessary place.



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