Marjorie Barker blogs about “overwhelming” loneliness she felt in later life, what she did to combat it and the importance of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
When you’re alone, you feel that you can’t achieve anything. This is why the work of Age UK and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is so important.
Nobody anticipates loneliness, it just happens. For me it came a decade ago, when my husband Alan developed vascular dementia and I became his carer. Not only did the man I had shared so much with no longer recognise me, but I also lost contact with everything and everyone I had known before. I couldn’t go out, as Alan could not be left alone.
Meaningful conversation was no longer possible with my husband, and for seven years my main form of human interaction came at Alan’s appointments at the memory clinic.
Libraries are seen by many as a lifeline and a crucial public service, especially if you are elderly, socially isolated, poor, vulnerable, or all of the above.
In rural areas, the local library, along with the village hall, pub and shop, is the focal point of community life. It’s a safe, trusted place for meeting friends and neighbours, a place for learning, information and leisure and sometimes just a place to keep warm.
If a community is unfortunate enough not to have a static library, then mobile/housebound services fill the gap, helping those that are most isolated.
This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.
It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).
This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.
Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”
We have heard a lot lately from various politicians about the need to examine the universal benefits received by older people and in particular the concessionary bus pass. It seems that in the age of austerity, even something that has been so successful and proved so popular, is subject to review.
But it is not just the threat from government to withdraw the bus pass from all but the poorest, there is also the threat to bus funding from the imminent spending review. Cuts to bus services will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.
This blog was contributed by David Terrace, Energy Programme Manager, at Age UK.
One cannot escape from the scrutiny on fuel poverty this winter, and rightly so, it’s an epidemic. However, one element of fuel poverty that is often ignored is the plight of those in rural, off-mains gas areas. For Age UK, this is particularly important as there is twice the percentage of retired people in rural areas than urban, and there are around 1.5million older people living off the gas grid.
So what we are doing about? During the cold winter we highlighted the issues that are facing older, isolated people in rural areas. Age UK achieved this through considerable press coverage with articles appearing in the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. This raised awareness of older people in terrible housing stock, paying a great deal more for their heating but not receiving the help that they need.
In 2012, the Office for National Statistics estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people aged 85 and over in the UK. We are only at the beginning of an estimated escalation of numbers of people in this age group, projected to reach 5 million by 2050. What was formerly a small number of exceptional individuals is rapidly becoming a whole new generation for families in this country: the ‘Fourth Generation’.
Over recent years, through research, our contact with leading experts, and our engagement with older people, it has become apparent to Age UK that we all need to know more about these ‘oldest old’. Often what we hear are stereotypes held over from days gone by – that these oldest people are all frail and in care homes, their useful life over. We are concerned that all of us who make decisions concerning their welfare need help to get up to date with their nature and needs.
This blog was contributed by Andy Glyde, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.
The BBC season on ageing, When I’m 65, produced some excellent hard-hitting documentaries on what it is like to get older. As a self-confessed telly addict and campaigner on older people’s issues, it was right up my street.
The good thing about the season was its boldness for not holding back. This was strikingly clear in the first programme, When I Get Older, which exposed some of the toughest issues faced by older people: poverty, isolation, loneliness, bereavement and caring for a partner, followed by life in a care home. Even I have to admit to shedding a tear or two as the four older celebrities went through their journey of discovery.
The crucial thing throughout the entire series was that all of the older celebrities involved were honest about their pre-conceptions about later life; Lesley Joseph thinking that families should be fine to care for loved ones, John Simpson seeing little point to living with dementia and Tony Robinson having such a negative attitude towards care homes. As one might expect with such stories, each experienced an epiphany to one level or another about how they had completely misjudged the situations they found themselves in. Not that later life is always rosy, but it certainly is not always as bad as one might think.
For me, the most inspiring show of the season was the one that seemed to arouse the least attention. How to Live Beyond 100 met some of Britain’s centenarians and found out their experiences of life having reached the big 1-0-0. From playing golf to swimming to being involved in the community, each highlighted the importance of being active in later life.
My particular favourite was Fauja Singh, the 101 year old marathon runner, for whom I have a huge amount of respect for, particularly as I ran past him in the London Marathon earlier this year. Continue reading “Shining a light on later life”