Any regular readers of my blog will know that I am passionate about ageing positively. Key to this is to stop seeing older people as a “problem” and start making our towns and cities age-friendly places.
A key driver in creating an age-friendly society is overcoming the isolation and loneliness many older people feel.
In today’s transient society so many older people’s families have moved away. Old people living alone often cite Sunday as their “loneliest” day because it is very much a day for family get togethers. For others the only person they have a conversation with in the entire week is the person delivering the post.
So-called “bed-blocking” has practically demonised old people blaming them for much of the problems of the National Health Service. But if an old person lives alone there may not be the support mechanisms are in place to ensure continued recovery in their own home. Agencies such as the Red Cross and the Royal Voluntary Service do sterling work trying to help older people settle back in their homes. But more needs to be done and in an age-friendly community there would be even more support mechanisms in place.
Older drivers are much maligned and spending on bus passes for the over 60’s often begrudged in our ageist society. Make it harder for older people to drive and take away their bus passes and where does that leave them – totally isolated. Good transport links are another essential for an age-friendly community.
We all need to be much more aware of the needs of older people. What’s the good of falls prevention education if there are uneven paving slabs and potholes at a road crossing as there are in my local village? Even geriatric wards are not always age friendly. I recently heard a woman recount how her aunt had a very nasty fall after using the toilet on her geriatric ward because the cord to ring the bell for assistance was too high for her to reach.
The World Health Organisation has recognised the need to develop Age-Friendly Cities. It’s a subject I want to see high on the political agenda throughout the United Kingdom. And it’s a subject I plan to return to as there are so many issues to cover
In the meantime here is a very good website.