Steve Whitley is Chair of the Elders Council of Newcastle, which provides an effective voice for older people resident or active in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is also a grandfather of five.
Through comparative studies, there has been a much better understanding of the factors which impinge on the quality of life of older people in different cultures. The establishment of such bodies as the Institute for Ageing and Health in Newcastle has led to a steady advance along a broad front in our struggle to understand how to have a practical impact upon older people’s quality of life.
I see a steady growth in understanding rather than any Nobel-Prize-worthy breakthrough.
It is known how this could be achieved. The problem, however, is that the disparity between those classes with the resources to take advantage of such knowledge and those classes without the resources could increase even beyond the present unacceptable difference.
I do not see the counter position that you are suggesting. What matters is the sociopolitical will to pay attention to the healthy longevity of all human beings rather than of a few who have been able to appropriate resources for themselves.
No. But it is essential that there is a fundamental re-thinking of the way in which we humans operate: there must be an end to our selfish frittering away of the planet’s resources.
Not really; it depends on what cultural family norms operate in the society that the woman lives in.
Sociopolitical and attitudinal changes are vital. For example, New Labour pusillanimously abdicated from the debate when the Tories described a perfectly reasonable option for paying for care as a ‘death tax. If British politicians cannot discuss this matter in a more mature and consensual manner, the most productive solutions will not be found.
Yes – ageism is rife. For example, a study by the Elders Council of Newcastle into the portrayal of older people in the local press showed that we are newsworthy mainly when we are victims.
The contribution that older people make to society is largely unrecognised. A survey of such contributions was made by the Elders Council of Newcastle; it revealed older people’s work in:
By specifically engaging in inter generational work. For example, the local older people’s forum and the local youth parliamentarians could have regular meetings: they would find, as we have done in Newcastle, that they share a lot of common ground.