By 2050, 15.6% of the global population will be older than 65. That’s a staggering statistic which has huge implications for how we treat our elderly people, for our healthcare services, our pensions and, arguably, the structure of society.
We are all aware of the double-edged sword that is saving for a pension at a time when, although we understand the reasoning behind providing for our old age, the performance of many pension funds is so woeful many of us are relying on the Government to fund our retirement.
And when we do retire, given that we are all living longer, what are we going to do with our time – assuming we are lucky enough to have reasonable health and mobility?
I am 52 and already I can sense that the tide has turned in terms of job opportunities for my age group. And it’s ridiculous. All that knowledge, expertise, training and honest-to-goodness street smarts often put out to grass when a bit of creative management would allow younger and older workers to buddy up, share responsibilities and learn from each other.
As a society, we really need to change our attitude to older people and the elderly themselves (even that word seems inappropriate) need to be encouraged to keep learning, developing and growing without fear of censure from younger generations.
Just because an older person may have mobility issues or require some adaptation to their living quarters such as a walk-in bath or safety rails, it does not mean that their brain is not as quick and agile as it always was.
After all, we are making huge strides in our battle against diseases such as cancer and are learning more and more about how we may better treat and prevent diseases such as dementia, strokes and heart disease.
Our chances of living to a ripe old age are increasing daily and even if we do face mobility challenges, there is a whole industry which has sprung up with innovative products to help us cope.
Of particular importance is helping our older people to remain socially active and a part of their local community.
Bathing Solutions, who specialise in mobility bathrooms are running a brilliant campaign for elderly people called #BreakingBarriers.
The campaign aims to change the perception many of us have about older people by encouraging them to break the social barriers that often face them by learning new skills.
It’s encouraging how many older people are getting online, Skyping and using Facebook. There is a whole range of hobbies or skills they can take up and Bathing Solutions’ Breaking Barriers campaign page has links to great resources for some of these such as knitting, Pilates, learning a new language, learning to speed read and cooking like Mary Berry (I need that one!).
The campaign page also allows you to search for courses on your chosen interest in your local community, perhaps in DIY & Practical Skills, Photography or Horticulture & Floristry.
My parents are 77 and they both enjoy their weekly art class. It’s not just the painting they love, but the social interaction and friendships they have made across a range of age groups.
We know that loneliness kills – literally – and it’s so important for our elderly to continue to be fully participating members of our society because they still have so much to give.
We really need to ensure that our senior citizens keep breaking barriers!
Find out more at bathingsolutions.co.uk.