Mind the age gap; let’s start giving older people the respect they deserve

There is no need for an introduction to this story from The Guardian.

Work experience: Older people have a lot to offer
The ubiquitous Mr Aso, as the article points out, has a track record for insensitivity. This latest tirade against the elderly is actually an extreme example of how societies are increasingly ‘valuing’ older people. Yes, it’s true that as we get richer and more savvy about health, so people in developed countries live longer, and this is a cause for celebration, not an excuse for propagating a form of ageist cleansing.

It’s not just about the economic and social impacts of populations that lives longer. As I go about my business in London, I see older people marginalised by a society that is designed and fine tuned to give younger people economic and social power. What used to be taken as given, that a younger person would vacate a seat for an elderly passenger struggling with shopping is now met with a grunt or shrug as the said younger person continues to carry on his or her obsession with the nonsense to catch up with on FaceTwitter.

The job market is also becoming a no-go area for people who who have the audacity to reach 50, never mind 70-plus. Despite evidence pointing to the ’employability’ of people with knowledge and experience, companies and organisations prefer ‘high-flyers’, some of whom, as we know are responsible for bringing western economies to the brink of collapse as Matthew Syed points out in his excellent book ‘Bounce’.

All of this is unfortunately a sideshow to the main act of how care for the elderly – both health and social – is being compromised by government cuts. This Daily Telegraph article is one of many that adorn the pages of our broadsheets.

And in the scramble to save money, it seems that the budget axe falls first with the ageing population.

The government had better watch its step. Countries as diverse as The Netherlands, Israel and India, to name just three, all have designated political parties representing older people and before the likes of Mr Aso have their way and see funeral companies’ profits soar, they may like to consider that in democratic countries, ageing people still have the vote.

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