Sunday, 13 January 2019

Brexit Britain is the last country in the world to be concerned about the ageism which besets its old men

While the Brexit crisis continues to both convulse and absorb the energies of the body politic in Britain and all other social problems go unattended : increased child poverty, an underfunded Education System, Police,  Prison and National Health Service. It is little wonder that the problems associated with ageism don't even get a look in.

According to Professor Martin Green, the Chief Executive of 'Care England', the largest representative body for independent social care services in the country, Britain in 2019 is  “completely and institutionally ageist”. Martin, who is also Chair of the International Longevity Centre, has also said that ageism in Britain is a “national scandal” that should be challenged in the courts.

He said that The Equality and Human Rights Commission should : “hang their heads in shame” over their failure to pursue as many ageism cases through the courts as they do cases of racism or homophobia. “The EHRC is ignoring the elephant in the room in such a determined way, despite me personally drawing it to their attention numerous times, that I can only assume they’re part of the problem: that they’re imbued with the same institutionalised ageism as the rest of society.”

Although the EHRC has disputed his claim, its own figures show that just 8 of the 27 cases which were ongoing in August 2018 involved age, 2 out of 21 litigation cases which concluded between April and August 2018 involved age, and 9 out of 40 cases which concluded in 2017 to 2018 involved age.

He said that the health and social care system constantly discriminates against older people, which means that they do not get the services to which they are legally entitled and “If you just flip the categories, you see how unacceptable ageism is. You hear those in the National Health Service say : "That person is too old for an operation", but they’d never say they’re "too black" or "too gay" for treatment.”

“An older person with the same level of functionality but suffering dementia, however, will have a social care plan costing many thousands of pounds less a week, which is based entirely around getting the older person out of bed, washed and breakfasted, all in half an hour. God alone knows why it hasn’t been challenged in the courts in the same way that instances of racism or homophobia are.” 

Last summer a report by the Caloust Gulbenkian Foundation commisioned by the Royal Society for Public Health, entitled : 'That Age Old Question' concluded that ageism is rife in Britain, with millennials holding the most negative attitudes towards ageing. Apparently, a quarter of them believe it is normal for older people to be unhappy and depressed, while 40% believe there is no way to escape dementia as you get older. 

Across all age groups, almost a third of people surveyed agreed with the statement :  “Being lonely is just something that happens when people get old”, while two-thirds said they had no friends with an age gap of 30 years or more.

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the RSPH said : “Ageist attitudes abound in society and have a major impact on the public’s health and yet they are rarely treated with the seriousness they deserve. Too often ageist behaviour and language is trivialised, overlooked or even served up as the punchline to a joke, something we would rightly not tolerate with other forms of prejudice".

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