Tag Archives: Ageing

Older people are still living in poverty and with growing inequality in later life

Our first blog post of the week looks at the findings from Age UK’s latest Chief Economist report. It focuses on the key economic aspects in the lives of many older people in the UK: inequality and poverty, and benefit take-up. 

Almost 60 years ago, Peter Townsend studied the lives of older people in East London and wrote:

The object of national assistance is largely to make up income, on test of means, to a subsistence level… A general definition of need is incorporated in its scale rates, and these are applied to individual circumstances, with certain discretionary disregards and allowances. The sums are intended to cover food, fuel and light, clothing, and household sundries, beside rent, and sometimes, after investigation, small additions are made for laundry, domestic help, or special diet. This definition of ‘subsistence’, on such evidence as exists, appears to be completely unrealistic.

You would be forgiven if, after reading Age UK’s latest Chief Economist Report, you concluded that not much has changed over all those years. Because, though the material aspects of the lives of older people in the country, whether in East London or East Belfast, have undeniably improved since then – thanks in a great part to the way initially ploughed by Eleanor Rathbone MP and the Old People’s Welfare Committee, Age UK’s predecessor, the current state of poverty among older people still looks dismal and grim as much as what it was like in Bethnal Green in yesteryear. Continue reading

Care cap delayed

The implementation of a lifetime spending cap on the amount an individual would spend on care was a flagship of the former coalition government’s social care policy, and a manifesto commitment for the present government. However implementation of the spending cap, originally intended for April 2016, has now been delayed until 2020. This means after the next election, so this delay raises considerable doubts about whether the cap will ever be implemented at all.

Age UK supported the proposed spending cap in principle and still does, but as we have said before, the devil is in the detail. For example the Dilnot Commission on long term care funding, which thought up the idea of the cap, originally set the cap at £35,000- £50,000, which was carefully calculated to ensure that the less well off would benefit. This objective was undermined by the government’s decision to raise the cap to £72,000.

Now that details of the scheme have emerged – with draft regulations being published only just before the election – it has become clear that the top priority must be to stop the social care system that millions of older people depend on from collapsing in its entirety.The most urgent priority arises from the current situation where cash strapped local authorities have restricted care to the point where over a million older people who are unable to carry out at least one vital activity of daily living without difficulty (for example using the toilet, getting dressed) receive no care whatsoever. Continue reading

Guest blog – Living well with dementia: understanding the benefits of music therapy

632x305_singing_dementia

Today’s guest post is from Donald Wetherick, Chair of Trustees at the British Association for Music TherapyAge UK recently took part in a Parliamentary roundtable exploring the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia, as part of Music Therapy Week.

Over 800,000 people in Britain live with dementia. This is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. For the growing number of people living with dementia, their carers and families, music therapy can play an important role in supporting their wellbeing and quality of life.

Oliver Sachs, the well-known neurologist, in his book ‘Musicophilia’, describes music therapy as seeking to ‘address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts and memories, the surviving “self” of the patient… to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organisation and focus.’

Leading research shows it can significantly improve the lives of people with dementia, reducing agitation, isolation and depression as well as the need for medication. It can help people at all stages of dementia. Continue reading

Age of opportunity: Recruiting and retaining older workers

440x210_older_workers_Mario

This blog was contributed by Joanne Sawyer, Policy Adviser at Age UK

An ageing population, the end of forced retirement and a rising State Pension age, mean that there are now more older workers (those aged 50 or over) in the jobs market.  This trend is projected to increase over the next decade – between 2012 and 2022 there will be an extra 3.7 million workers aged between 50 and State Pension age.  Alongside this, given population changes, there will be fewer younger people entering work.  Employers and recruiters consequently need to embrace the ageing demographic of the workforce.

Working life for the over 50s

However, although the overall increase in employment rates among older workers is welcome, it does not tell the full story of working life for the over 50s.  Perceptions and stereotypes of older workers – usually negative – are still firmly held, and challenging these is vital for individuals, employers and society. They affect the way that older workers are treated when in work (e.g. in accessing training or promotion opportunities) and when out of work (e.g. long-term unemployment is a particular problem for the over 50s, with 44% of those who are unemployed having been out of work for over a year, compared to 32.0% for all 16-64 year olds).  Ensuring that older workers are not forced out of the labour market, and providing appropriate support to those who find themselves unemployed, remains crucial if we are to avoid storing up social problems for the future.

A Best Practice Guide for Recruiters

Age UK believes that it is in everyone’s interests for people to be able to remain in work for as long as they desire and are capable of doing so, and that no-one should be disadvantaged because of their age.  This is why we have partnered with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation to produce a best practice guide for recruiters.

Recommendations include:

  • Understand the benefits of recruiting older workers and promote the business case for employing this age group to clients.
  • Look beyond the stereotypes.
  • Provide information, advice and training to recruitment staff to help them understand and overcome the barriers faced by older jobseekers.
  • Be mindful of the language used in job adverts.
  • Seek to use a diverse range of platforms to advertise jobs.
  • Designate an internal advocate for older people.
  • Forge links wherever possible with welfare-to-work providers and Jobcentre Plus.

We call on all recruiters and employers to look beyond an individual’s age and make best use of the available skills and expertise of all workers.

Read the best practice guide for recruiters 

Read consumer advice about employment on the Age UK website