Category Archives: General

Meeting our Age Champion MPs

Age UK campaigner Joan Manning receives a bunch of flowers from the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Today’s blog is about Age UK’s recent parliamentary reception to celebrate the commitment of our Age Champion MPs. Pictured is Age UK campaigner Joan, receiving flowers from the Speaker of the House of Commons in thanks for her speech.

On Monday 6th July, Age UK were delighted to host a Reception in the Speaker’s House with a number of our dedicated older campaigners and Parliamentarians. The event was an opportunity for MPs to speak with older people and representatives from Age UK about the issues affecting people in later life, and what the government and communities can do today and tomorrow to make the UK and their constituencies a better place to grow older.

Age UK campaigner Joan Manning gave a moving speech about her personal experience caring for her husband. She explained:

‘I have been lucky. My husband Geoffrey was a very gracious and accommodating patient. He was not aggressive. He was funny and made jokes until the day he died. I was lucky: He did not die of Alzheimer’s.  He was ‘saved’ by his cancer. Geoffrey was eventually assessed as being unwell enough to qualify for care. Unable to get out of bed, stand or communicate, with diffuse cancer and in the depths of dementia.  This was 3 days before he died. Yes – I was lucky.’

 

Age Champions

The reception was also an opportunity for us to talk about what it means to be an ‘Age Champion’; a pledge that over 80 MPs signed up to during our General Election campaign. By signing up to be an Age Champion, MPs will work with Age UK on issues being faced by many people in later life including:

– The need to end the crisis in social care, with over 1 million older people who have difficulty with basic tasks such as getting out of bed, washing, and dressing receive no help or support.

– The urgent need for better housing and warm homes in winter. In 2012 there were over 600,000 older households living in fuel poverty.

– Loneliness and isolation, with around 1 million older people regularly going an entire month without speaking to anyone

The event was a huge success and a fantastic opportunity for us and our campaigners to meet our Age Champions and discuss our ambitions for later life.

For more information about our work with parliamentarians head to our Politics and Government website pages. You can also follow our public affairs and campaigning work, and see photos from the reception, on Twitter: @ageukcampaigns.

Testing times for older drivers?

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On 26 June, Age UK is supporting a free conference at the Mobility Roadshow looking at how we can improve road safety for older drivers. Joe Oldman, Age UK’s Consumer and Community Policy Advisor, explains the current issues in the older driver debate. 

For many of us, continuing to drive as we get older is essential – a car may determine our ability to remain active and independent. The thought of having to give up driving can be distressing, especially in places where alternative forms of transport are limited or non-existent.

Challenging the myths about older drivers

With an increase in older drivers, there is growing concern about the implications for road safety.  Media coverage about older drivers and safety can be unhelpful or even insulting – dealing in lazy stereotypes rather than considering the evidence. The vast majority of older drivers, with many years of experience, are often safer than younger drivers. Those drivers aged 75 and over make up 6% of all licence holders, but account for just 4.3% of all deaths and serious injuries on the road. By contrast, drivers aged 16-20 make up just 2.5% of all drivers but 13% of those killed and seriously injured.

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Guest blog: Uncovering the incontinence taboo in social care

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Today’s guest blog is from Professor Paul Abrams, Chair of the expert group on LUTS and highlights the issues that arise when continence isn’t given the prominence it deserves.

According to the Department of Health, incontinence is second only to dementia as a precipitating factor in care home admissions and affects nearly 2 in 3 in nursing homes.

Despite this, new analysis published by the expert group on lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) demonstrates that the majority of local authority commissioners do not view incontinence as a priority.

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General Election Series: Our election journey

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Liz (pictured right) speaks to Liz Kendall, who represented the Labour party at the Age UK Rally

 

On polling day the last blog from our General Election Series is a guest post from Age UK Sunderland. It charts their journey from the Age UK Rally in London to their local hustings in Sunderland. 

For us here at Age UK Sunderland, the run up to the General Election has been hectic – we’ve been involved in national campaigns, and things a little closer to home, all with the aim of making sure whoever represents us in the next Parliament helps to make this a great place to grow older.

Our election journey really began on a chilly morning in late March, when I, and five older people, boarded the 6.45am train to London from Sunderland.

Age UK Rally 

We spent the day at Age UK’s Rally – along with 250 older people – listening to representatives from the five main political parties and explaining how they would improve the lot of older people if they were successful on polling day.

It was a unique opportunity to get our points across – two of our contingent posed their questions to the speakers, whilst another spent her lunch break chatting with one of the speakers about the issues which are hitting older people hardest.

The sense of purpose in the room was palpable – the conversations didn’t stop over the breaks, and we gained as much from chatting with our fellow activists and peers, as we did from hearing from the speakers.

Local hustings event 

We returned to Sunderland pleased to have been lucky enough to attend the rally and be directly involved- but for me, our day in London was only the beginning.

Two weeks later we held a local hustings event, which saw the five main parties’ candidates field questions from a more intimate group of 20 local people.

A whole range of issues were discussed: from universal benefits for older people, to the state of health and social care for those in later life.

BBC Look North sent a representative to ask the audience ‘is it worth voting at the Election?’ This sparked a debate about voter apathy and turnout, which was televised later along with a mock election.

Election debate in Gateshead 

Following this media appearance, we’ve also sent members of our network to an election debate held in Gateshead just a week before the election.

There has been opportunity after opportunity for our members to get involved, from the events I’ve described to the campaign postcard which allows older people to write directly to their candidates for free.

As a result, it’s been a really rewarding campaign, with huge levels of involvement. It is obvious to me that the people of Sunderland are passionate about making our area, and the UK, a great place to grow older. Let’s hope the next Parliament feels the same.

Today, we will all vote to choose our future MPs and the next UK Government. It’s vital that once elected our politicians act on the issues that affect older people, today and tomorrow. Ask your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to become Age Champions