By Leon A Smith
June 23, 2011
This week I’m returning to a theme which looking back over my blog in recent months is sadly a recurring one. This either means that this particular theme is a very serious one or alternatively it could mean that I am becoming fixated! It is a theme that some people may perceive as being a somewhat peripheral issue. What is that theme? It relates to how older people in our society today are being marginalised.
I have spoken before about how parking in Central London requires one to be able to handle a mobile phone. In some cases this could be tricky for some older people who may not be dextrous enough to be able to do this. Many companies today also make life extremely difficult for their customers who may not be computer literate and/or have access to a computer.
I recently tried to make a complaint to Sky TV only to find out that the only way which in which a complaint would be considered was online and even then it was very hard going to navigate one’s way around the complaints procedure - again something which would be extremely difficult for somebody even older than myself!
Something else which I have referred to previously has been the Olympics and being one of that very particular group of people who have supported the concept of the Games being held in London from the very beginning – only now to find myself completely disillusioned through my inability to obtain tickets for any of the events. I tried very hard to book tickets for a group of residents from Nightingale whose average age is just under 90. Yet there were no special facilities, no facilities for group bookings, and the only way of purchasing tickets would have been to have taken a chance with the other couple of million people applying with the likely results that we would have received nothing. Therefore a group of people are being deprived of the last opportunity in their lives to see the Olympics in their own home city.
If one wanted to take a group of people to see a Premier League football match – this is easier said than done. There is a problem with traffic and access to the grounds before and after a match – therefore making it very difficult for older people,many of whom have disabilities and/or mobility problems to be able to attend. One of the side effects of aging is of course that all sorts of people look young and indeed are younger – footballers, policemen, members of parliament etc.
I often find myself in situations – restaurants, train carriages, other public areas, miserably reflecting that “I’m the oldest person here….!” It may be that’s more of an issue concerning myself than it is about society. But nevertheless the marginalisation of older people still stands. On the one hand, this group of people have contributed enormously to society through their lifetime and in many cases continue to do so through voluntary work, as grandparents, and through their economic power.
Yet to most providers of services unless they are specifically targeted at this particular audience, they do ot form the central part of most people’s thinking. One would hope – perhaps unrealistically that most service providers would be thinking of how they could accommodate and satisfy this ever growing section of society – ie the over 60’s. They are an increasingly large group and will have increasingly significant purchasing power. If only from a commercial point of view, this is a group of people who should not be neglected.
With higher life expectancy it is obvious that the over 60’s will become the fastest growing demographic group. Unfortunately I believe that older people in practice do not have political power because they will not vote as a homogeneous lobby group and are more likely to follow the traditional Party allegiances that they have held through much of their lives.
Nevertheless we still have the conundrum of why more is not done to make access to services such as those I have described above for this very large group of people – a group that all too soon I am becoming a member of!