Alan Walker: When I'm old, I'd like to be treated fairly. Can our society deliver?

Share
Related Topics

The Government has pinpointed demographic change as one of the three great challenges facing Britain (along with terrorism and global warming). That is a significant step but there is a missing element – the issue of fairness.

Older people's human rights should be central to policy and practice. Too many older people experience discrimination and social exclusion, and feel they are not listened to or valued; far too many experience long poverty, low incomes and related health problems.

We all share the same goal: to prevent or delay for as long as possible (ideally to the point of death) all of the negative associations with later life - physical, mental and financial.

The Government deserves praise for several impressive strategies and plans, for example on housing and social inclusion of older people. Now is the time to implement them.

The recession also reminds us of the need to combat ageism – especially in the workplace. The last recession hit the middle-aged particularly hard, with many remaining unemployed for up to 15 years before retiring. Employment should be part of a new ageing strategy which reflects the fact that ageing is a lifetime process.

However, no strategy aimed at improving our post-retirement years can be meaningful if it does not tackle pensioner poverty and acknowledge that the present approach will not eradicate it. Finally, any strategy on fairness in an ageing society must spotlight inter-generational relations. Younger people need to be clear that they have to think long term about their own ageing and the factors that determine well-being across their life.

Individually and as a society we have yet to absorb just how significant demographic change is. Public policy always has a structural lag, in which both thinking and practice remain rooted in the past. We have the evidence base for a new approach, some excellent strategies and some very successful pilot projects. The last part is simple: a bold new vision, about fairness and human rights for older people, with political support and the resources to tackle a great challenge.

Alan Walker is Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology at the University of Sheffield. He was speaking at the launch of the 'Fairness in an ageing society policy forum'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz