Thursday, March 08, 2012

old and out of the way

More than 600,000 pensioners are virtual prisoners in their own homes, passing their front door less than once a week at most, a study of the everyday lives of older people shows.Up to two million retired people struggle even to get to the local corner shop, supermarket or Post Office. Even vital services such as a local GPs’ surgery is difficult for 15 per cent of older people – the equivalent of 1.6 million people.

It shows how the daily lives of more than one-in-20 pensioners in the UK are marked by acute loneliness. 735,000 people described themselves as “often” or “always” lonely.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK’s director general said: "It’s a sad reflection of our society that so many older people find themselves increasingly isolated at home and can’t get to their local GP, post office or even corner shop easily. These are vital lifelines providing social contact as well as essential services particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable. With a growing older population, we need to make sure that those in later life are brought into the hearts of our communities, not left on the periphery with little social contact across the generations. With cuts in bus routes as a result of a reduction in local authority subsidies and the recent post office closures, the situation can only get worse..."

Capitalism denies us the barest dignity in old age. Until recent times, the older members of communities commanded respect as the bearers of accumulated wisdom. In primitive society one of the greatest sources of human survival was the knowledge of the elderly. If you lived in a gathering/ hunting society the knowledge of where plants occurred, where animals existed and at what times of the year was essential for human society. Knowledge was power. So much was this the case for human survival that one of the first forms of religion was ancestor worship. We no longer live in a gathering/hunting society, we live in a modern capitalist society. Capitalism rations the costs of elderly healthcare to the limits of social and moral acceptability. Inside this society attitudes towards the elderly are completely different. If they are poor they are looked upon as a burden by the capitalist class who if they had any decency would just simply disappear. Or stay hidden at home, out of the public's eye!

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