Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Britain is a country where old man have a new champion in Anna Dixon and the Centre for Ageing Better
“We think there’s lots of opportunity to change not only how we experience old age but some of the perceptions of what it is to grow old. We have a great opportunity to make a big difference on one of the biggest public policy issues internationally. We want the work we do to mean more of us look forward to a good old age.”
At her disposal she has a 10-year endowment, chaired by the 71 year old Lord Filkin, worth £50m from the Big Lottery Fund. The good Lord also chaired a House of Lords Select Committee which concluded in 2013 that the country was "woefully underprepared" for the demographic change that will see a doubling in the number of very old people aged over 85 by 2030.
Anna agreed with the Committee : “There’s a profound change occurring because of increased life expectancy. On the one hand that’s something fantastic and something we should be celebrating. But the demographic shift with a larger proportion of the population in older age is something we’re not preparing for either individually, in terms of saving enough or thinking about what sort of houses we might need to be living in, or as a society.”
So how does Anna feel that the Centre might help improve the quality of life for old men and women and kelp them age better ? In answer to the question she cites her grandmother as a role model who, disabled and virtually housebound for many years, still managed to live a very full life.
“It’s not necessarily being free of disability or disease, it is about feeling you’ve got value in life, that you are loved, that you can give as well as receive and be connected to other people.”
So elderly men of Britain, Anna is looking to :
* strengthen your links to your COMMUNITY :
“People can be facing quite a challenging health situation, they might not be that well off by objective measures of income but if they have strong social relationships and a positive mindset that can make a big difference and that’s an area we would like to look at.”
* keep you in WORK :
"A lot of things are being tried out now, like mid-career reviews, apprenticeships for older people and employment practices to support older people to stay longer in work, but there’s no evidence yet about which of those actually work. That’s the sort of practical thing where we can help to evaluate some of the new approaches and spread that learning among employers."
* improve your HOUSING :
by promoting more tailored housing and better use of technology. “There’s a huge focus on residential care, but actually if you look at the population of over-65s it’s only about 3% who are in residential care, so what are we saying about the 97% living in their own homes? If we could do something to help them stay in their homes then we’re actually going to reduce the need to expand residential and institutional care.”
* bust some of the MYTHS and NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS about you :
such as the view that you are a burden on the National Health Service when, in fact, more people under the age of 65 than older people like you are living with more than one chronic condition.
And for the future elderly man and women of Britain :
“We have to help younger people in their planning and preparing for later life. Some of us might occasionally see financial adviser about pensions but mostly we don’t want to think about it and we certainly don’t want to imagine ourselves having dementia and needing personal care. We need to help people to do what they need to do and maybe make some different choices earlier so they get a better chance of experiencing a good later life.”
Cynical old men in Britain might feel that this doesn't amount to much and after the £50m has been spent, there won't be a perceptible difference in the lives of millions of elderly men and women. Others, more charitably, might agree but still say :
"It may not be much, but it is a step in the right direction and all power to your elbow Anna."