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March 31, 2020

Everyone can contribute

It’s fantastic to see so much positive community spirit and innovative ideas about how we can work together to do our best for everyone in this new and frightening world. There is no doubt that older people, and others who also face risk, are going to need support to get through this challenge.

Although the Age Proud Leeds campaign has been strongly opposing ageism we do recognise that most people in our society are currently extending respect and kindness towards older people and prioritising life-saving actions. There is also widespread recognition of the value of the lives of people who have died, who are being mourned and celebrated.

Alongside this brilliant community effort there have been some negatives, often in the form of older people and disabled people being seen as a ‘

‘burden’. Some people have framed the crisis as a ‘natural’ process of ‘culling’, to put it bluntly ‘this is one way to solve the social care crisis’ and that it could effectively defuse the ‘demographic time bomb’.

Catherine Mayer explored this and other key issues in her recent article about Mother’s Day and the Age Proud Leeds campaign has been highlighting the evidence about the contributions made by older people.

It’s interesting that last week marked a new initiative, National Intergenerational Week, celebrating people of different ages coming together. It is a timely theme, and in a similar coincidence the Centre for Ageing Better has just published a new report ‘Doddery but dear?: Examining age-related stereotypes’ .

The report, which reviewed all existing research on attitudes to ageing, found that older workers are seen as having lower levels of performance, less ability to learn, and being more costly than younger workers.

In health and social care, the review found that stereotypes are even more negative, with attitudes focusing on death and physical decline, and ageing seen as a process of increasingly bad health.’

A strong element of the stereotyping of older people, explored in the report, is that people are seen only as recipients of support rather than as a resource. There are so many great ideas circulating around the internet and on TV about how to cope with isolation, but why aren’t we asking the experts? Many older people have already been living with isolation for many years and have developed their own strategies to cope. Perhaps we should be shining a light on this lived experience to help people of all ages who may be facing this challenge for the first time.

We will be sharing ideas and suggestions about how to cope with isolation and we are keen to hear from older people.

Jude Woods
Friendly Communities Officer, Time to Shine
0113 244 1697