Older people feel their lives are getting worse according to a new report launched today (7 April) by leading older people's charity, Age Concern and Help the Aged.
One in four UK older people, the equivalent of nearly 2.5 million individuals, admit their quality of life has deteriorated in the last 12 months, an additional 400,000 since the previous year. A further two thirds of people aged 65 and over (66 per cent) say their lives have not improved at all.
One Voice: Shaping our Ageing Society, a landmark report from the newly merged charity for older people, examines the issues facing older people in the UK: poverty, age discrimination, isolation and lack of care and support.
Age Concern and Help the Aged is challenging the government and all political parties to transform the ageing process by committing to ending pensioner poverty, banning all forms of age discrimination and ensuring older people can access better quality care and support.
The One Voice report tracks progress on issues over time. Four of the 30 indicators in the report had improved, 13 had worsened and 13 showed no change.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, says: "Loneliness, depression, poverty and neglect blight the lives of millions of older people and for many, evidence shows the situation is getting worse, not better.
"Attitudes to older people are stuck in the past, the care and support system for older people is on the brink of collapse and older people's experiences of isolation and exclusion have largely been ignored by successive governments.
"Despite the economic conditions dominating the headlines, the current government and all political parties must not shy away from addressing the long-term challenges of an aging society. Beneath the shocking statistics are real life human tragedies - avoiding the issues is no longer an option.
"But the public finances are not a bottomless pit and tough choices will have to be made. Adapting to an aging society requires changes by businesses, society and individuals, as well as increased public investment."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"In some cases families have no choice but to use care homes. My 96-year-old grandmother had a stroke 18 months ago, which left her doubly incontinent and totally immobile. Rather than put her in a nursing home the family attempted to care for her at home, the majority of the burden falling on my (as then) 75 year old mother and 70 year old aunt. We were initially provided with visits from carers 4 times a day and had to pay for private carers to attend to her during the night as neither my mother or aunt were pysically able to manouvere her in the bed. This continued for a total of 10 weeks and cost my grandmother over £4,000. Eventually we had no option but to place her in a nursing home. The care is not fantastic, but because of the level of her dependency there were few homes who would accept her. She is warm and safe and visited daily by members of the family but the guilt that accompanies such a decision and continues to be felt after every visit should not be negated by comments tht people just do not want to care for their elderly relatives. If the situation had continued I would have been burying my mother long before my grandmother." - Janet, Liverpool
"I agree; but the first thing to do is not to put the blame on others. Money, food or the best of care from an outsider will never solve the problem. The elderly want to continue to be loved by their children, whether on good days or bad days but they all have the feeling whether they admit it or not, that they have been abandoned. Family should take an active part in the care of their beloved." - Lana Bhantooa, Scotland
"Some of us will not get the opportunity to become old, but most of us will do. To be old brings with it all the social health and emotional disadvantages. There is no one answer to these multiproblems that the elderly encounter. However, aging has to be put in the public arena and debated – it is only then that attempts will be made to provide answers to our aging population needs and ways by which these can be addressed." - V Henry
"Yes, I work in the private sector and I have seen some good homes and some very bad homes. The majority of homes are in it for one thing – to gain a profit. How can you care for the elderly when everything included in their food is on a budget? How can one sausage or jam and bread as part of a main meal be a healthy diet? The powers that be shoud do spot checks on ALL homes and see what really happens. Many would be closed down." - Name and address supplied
"Families no longer want to care for their own relatives. My family were so good to me when I needed them. I have always looked after mine and hopefully will have taught my children to be caring. Today's society is to selfish to do this; life is moving too fast and people are not enjoying the simple pleasures in life. My family are all that matters to me, young and old alike. I hope my children won't abandon me when I'm of no further use to them!!! Keep your sense of humour, always smile, which is impossible if you think that no one wants you!!! I really don't know what the answer is; this is a difficult one." - Kate Greiff, Leicester
"My 88-year-old mother who has dementia fell during the night 4 weeks ago. The careworker contacted the GP in the morning, they refused to come out but ordered an ambulance on a 2 hr call. I was on holiday at the time, but the agency had been told of my 3 daughters home and mobile numbers. The careworker left a message on 1 daughters phone, did not try the other 2, gave the keysafe number to the hairdressers shop next door for when the ambulance arrived and left my mother alone. My mother got out of her chair and dialled another granddaughter's number and she arrived half an hour before the ambulance. What sort of care in the community is that?" - Lieva Nation, Hertfordshire
"I think their should be better carers in nursing homes. I see a lot of elderly patients who feel they are being neglected and left to their own accord. More training and more enjoyment for the elderly and the care staff." - Cheryl, Billingham
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