Thursday 12 July 2012

Age Shall Not Weary

According to The Times, I am now a “financial time bomb” and unless defused will cause the economy to flatline.  Whether this means that it should become policy to cause persons of my age profile to flatline before that happens is not certain.

In the last week or so there has been more attention paid to matters arising from dealing with the elderly who need support.  Inevitably, much of this has centred on human interest stories. 

Less mention has been made of the Equality and Human Rights Commission recent report called “Close To Home, An Enquiry Into Older People And Human Rights In Home Care”. 

The report attempts to bring together the Commission’s view for its future policy and guidance about Equality, Disability, Diversity, Care management and Human Rights for the elderly in need and who are disabled. 

Yes it is very expensive with many and various implications that entail costs, duties and obligations.  The question of who pays and how is left to others to worry about. 

Necessarily battle has been joined over whether the aged with assets should be given free or limited cost care allowing their wealth to be passed on to family or others or whether those assets should be used to fund the care requirements.

One of the oddities that goes unremarked is that amongst the aged are many whose periods in education were much shorter and who worked for much longer than those of later generations are likely to.  But to discuss this would simply confuse the key issues.

Historically, we have never been here before, which makes a change for this blog.  In the past with the expectation of life being much lower and few people being able to appreciate assets in the way we have done the numbers of aged needing care were far smaller and the few who did have assets were expected to use them.

From my extensive scratching around Census Returns of the past looking for this and that the common practise was for the aged to be with their families, normally used on light household duties.  Some of the poorest did finish up in the Workhouse. 

Some continued in work, one of mine seemed to be still employed into his nineties, perhaps urged on by his much younger third wife.  Well it was Leith which might explain it.  There were a few with assets often listed as “annuitants” which meant that the wealth lasted only as long as they did.

But the better off then could hire servants and the less they could do then the more servants and nurses they employed.  If they were renting, as was common at the time then the notion of property as assets was tempered.  Also the property market in those days was radically different.

At present in the district where I live there is a stark contrast.  There are hardly any aged who are Brit’s living with their families.  But amongst recent migrants there has been a striking increase in the number of families who have brought in their aged parents to be amongst their UK kin.

Which raises an awkward and interesting question.  If all care for the aged is to be borne by the taxpayer then many migrant communities will be paying for old Brit’s to be supported by their taxes whilst they themselves take care of their own.  Did anybody see that one coming?

Another difficult question is who are the carers?  At present the care for most either in residential facilities or their own homes appears to be done by part timers or agency workers earning very modest incomes, having had limited training and given very tight schedules.

Moreover, they are becoming in short supply relative to need.  So not only may the money not be there to fund all this, there isn’t the man (or rather woman) power there to do the job effectively.  The resources locked up in all this are alleged to be so much as to damage the working economy.

As in so many things, there are no “right answers” to any of it.  All we have is a number of options all with “downsides” that are both problematical and in some cases impossible to resolve to the satisfaction of all parties.

This one is going to get rough because the pre-conditions are in place for a social, economic and political disaster.  See you in the Job Centre.


  1. All very pertinent and very true.
    It will not happen for a long time I think, unfortunately, but we need to really treasure the family as a unit, as it used to be, amongst all sections of society. I still do know lots of people who care for family members themselves, but it is not the norm as it was once, and they do not get much help if they are just about coping with it. The Indian family at our local shop are a fine example to everyone. Also, it has to be emphasized I think, many people are very overweight. You do not have to be paid to go the gym in order to lose weight, or madly exercise, you only have to eat less, eat healthily (as most older people always used to), and just walk a bit more. I have noticed recently, people are talking to each other more often than they used to, and a lot of little kindnesses happening.

  2. They should have seen this coming decades ago.
    As soon as abortion and contraception was promoted you had a sterile 'no children' society.
    As a thought you could shut dow the military and start a geriatric support group on its place.