• Sarah Whitebloom


Not a minister for the elderly

GREAT news. Last week, the Prime Minister appointed a Minister for Loneliness. Who could possibly complain? Loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in our dysfunctional society and, we are told, it is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is the type of data loved by the media, almost every one an ex-smoker.

And yet, and yet. It sounds churlish to say so, but what why can't we have a minister for older people - someone with interdepartmental responsibilities who will perform the real role of coordinating all the policy relating to older people? It's what we need. I'm not saying that the Minister for Loneliness will not have a real role, but perhaps she could report to them?

Of course, when we think about the lonely, we tend to think solely about older people - although we shouldn't. But a Minister for Loneliness is no substitute for a Minister for Older People. Aside from anything else, loneliness is not the only issue for older people and neither is social care - before you point out that Jeremy Hunt is now Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. It is about time politicians stopped blaming older people for everything from Brexit to the housing crisis, while seeing them as victims with the sole concerns of social care and loneliness.

There are numerous 'issues' affecting older people as a distinct group - which is the whole point of OlderLivingMatters. In no particular order these include: poverty, pensions, benefits, fitness, legal affairs and crime, health, education and employment opportunities, discrimination, transport, housing, relationships and, yes, social care and loneliness. There are many ways in which Government could and should take action for older people.

Maybe that's the trouble. A Minister for Older People would actually have to do something.

If any politician genuinely cared about older people, for instance, they would stop pointing out that there are billions in unclaimed 'elderly' benefits each year and start helping older people get the money to which they are entitled. What could you call such a person? Hey, here's an idea...the Minister for Older People.

(Make mental note to self, take up smoking again . At least I liked smoking)


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