Search

Bleak view for elderly in report

PUBLISHED: 10:05 07 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:36 03 July 2010

THE care and support system for older people is on the brink of collapse and millions live in loneliness, depression and poverty, according to a report launched today.

THE care and support system for older people is on the brink of collapse and millions live in loneliness, depression and poverty, according to a report launched today.

One in four people aged 65 and over in the East of England feel their quality of life got worse in the last 12 months - and one in 10 up perceive themselves to be often or always lonely.

The report, called One Voice, has been put together by the newly merged charity Help the Aged and Age Concern and reveals the stark results of a nationwide survey of older people.

It calls for a UN convention on older people's rights, the outlawing of mandatory retirement ages and spending an extra £1-2bn on older people's care as part of any fiscal stimulus.

Other demands include automatic payment of benefits, 'age-proof' employment and a focus on preventing and managing conditions of ageing.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director for Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: “Loneliness, depression, poverty and neglect blight the lives of millions of older people.

“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.”

Life expectancy has risen, the proportion of pensioners living in poverty has dropped and many have had the chance to work for longer, according to the report.

But of 30 indicators being tracked, in the East of England 13 worsened, 13 showed no change and just four improved, including the number of older people exercising.

Nationally one in three older people said they avoided heating their bedroom, living room or bathroom to save money.

More than 50pc said people tended to be treated like children once they reached a very old age.

Emily Millington-Smith, chairman of Norfolk Older People's Forum, supported the report and said the situation for people in rural areas was often worse, especially as Norfolk has a higher proportion of older people than the rest of England.

She said: “Older people are not fools; they are trying to look after themselves but with a general increase in living costs they are having to work into what may be small savings.”

The report said that last year saw the oldest and poorest pensioners hit hardest by rising cost of living, fears about savings, pensions, and people in their 50s and 60s worried about losing their jobs at a time when they can least afford it.

However, Edith Pocock, secretary of Norwich and Norfolk Pensioners' Association, said she felt older people were better off now than they had ever been but that many were either unaware of benefits they were entitled to, too proud to claim or put off by the form-filling.

Yesterday's increase in the state pension was criticised for not being enough by older people's groups.

The National Pensioners' Convention warned that the increase in the basic state pension of £4.55 a week for people with a full National Insurance contribution record would do little to help.

The full basic state pension is now £95.25 a week, falling to £57.06 for people who do not have a full NI contribution record, many of whom are women.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury