Letter: Role for the old

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Role for the old

Sir: Ken Jackson ("Welfare Reform? We really don't have any choice", 2 January) is right. Our long-standing link with the Muslim community of Gunjur in The Gambia provides us with a cruel mirror in which to reflect on our own society.

In their society Islam and the extended family are central to the social structure and the elderly are treated with more respect the older they become. Our Gambian friends are outraged, morally and religiously, when we take them to visit our local residential homes for the elderly and they see the walls lined with "redundant" people. "Why aren't they living with their families and being allowed to continue to make a contribution to society?" they say.

Rather than seeing the elderly as a problem let us see them as a resource. Is there really some biological change that takes place at 60? As a GP, I will guarantee that appropriate, valued, paid work by the elderly will reduce and certainly delay the level of sickness and dependency and thus cost to the state.

Dr NICK MAURICE

Marlborough Brandt Group

Marlborough, Wiltshire

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