Noticed in the newspapers: week ending 11.1.2020
Letters: Bags of Life (and more)
Frank Cartwright tells of the response from a till girl when he asked if a bag was guaranteed to outlast him: ‘She looked at me very intently and said: ‘In your case, sir, certainly.’ Mr Cartwright is 86
Godfrey Keller wonders which of he (67), his partner (68), and a kitten they rescued, will be the first to go
Albert Beale makes the serious point that checkout machines and the like are designing loneliness into our lives. No banter such as was available to Frank Cartwright when you are a barcode. Let us insist on people, and maybe on cash!
Michael Pereira recommends involvement in community groups that are ‘inclusive and not especially ability based’. There is so much which can be done in this way, including a return to a faith community which you may have known earlier in life
Sally Weale has become convinced that Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world: she uses the provocative term ’age apartheid’. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/07/britain-age-segregated-countries-world-age-apartheid
She has been reading ‘Together in the 2020s’, a report from the organisation ‘United for all ages’. https://www.unitedforallages.com/
This affirms there is separation between people of different ages, other than within families. The organisation’s mission is to correct this by engineering togetherness: Children from schools to be involved in the life of care homes, schools to be re-designated ‘community space’ by extending their hours and providing intergenerational activity. Home sharing between older people and younger people not linked as family members would be extended. There might be a national day of togetherness and a new government department of togetherness. There must be virtue in such ideas, though the original premise may be overstated. Our most natural togetherness is within families, and then across the age range within organisations we chose to be part of.
Deaths and funerals: We have previously commented on the trend for people to choose simple funerals as the cost of a traditional funeral has become prohibitive for many. The Guardian and other newspapers took up a report from The Royal London Insurance Company which draws attention to the number of people requiring their funeral to be paid for by the state: of the 600,000 deaths in the UK during 2018, just over 4,000 came to a Public Health funeral at a total cost of £6.3 million – averaging £1,500 per funeral. It is an awful thing when this is the way that a life ends, but reassuring that when the need is there, there is a means for this to be met. www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20200108/282037624096575
Discrimination: There is concern that rumoured plans by the new government to require regular tests of competence of senior civil servants will discriminate against older members of staff https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/02/whitehall-reforms-may-lead-to-discrimination-says-union
The wisdom of handing over responsibility to young mathematically talented newcomers is also questioned https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/07/dominic-cummings-maths-doesnt-really-add-up (more letters)
Amelia Hill takes us back to the International Longevity Centre’s preoccupation with targeting the purses of older people as a source of revenue – in this case for the fashion industry. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/jan/05/fashion-industry-ageism-older-consumers. They seem to think that advertising with glamorous older people (mainly women) as models, there will be a surge in trade. As in the comment on the general report last week, they have to be aware of the conservatism of we older people, and our lack of interest in spending frivolously. But beware.
The biology of deprivation
We are convinced that poverty is linked to poor health and early death. Nicola Davis reports on studies of children who came to Britain from orphanages of the Ceausescu regime – examples of severe deprivation in childhood. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/06/severe-childhood-deprivation-reduces-brain-size-study-finds. These children had small brains, cognitive impairment, emotional and behavioural difficulties. In adulthood, some of these problems are reduced but brain size remains below that of controls. Interestingly earlier studies of survivors of the Holocaust describe similar difficulties in their early years, but dementia was no more common than in the general population. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21157030