At 60, I feel like a bit of an inbetweener when it comes to old age. After all 60, really is the new 40, I once read.
I wonder if I’ll feel the same when I’m 70 which I do regard as properly old. Talking of 70, myself and a friend were chatting yesterday and were forced to acknowledge that we had ‘mates’ in their seventies. This didn’t seem good!
For this reason I’ve always felt that any organization with the word age in that title was too old for me which, of course, rules out Age UK which bills itself as the UK’s leading charity helping everyone make the most of later life.
All that said I couldn’t help applaud what Baroness Greengross – pictured above in front of the poster! – a former director-general of Age Concern, which merged with Help the Aged, has had to say about the latest coronavirus restrictions banning gatherings of more than six.
Older people care more about spending Christmas with their families than protecting themselves from coronavirus, she said.
To put it more starkly she goes on to say that pensioners would prioritise seeing their grandkids “over staying alive”.
I believe this is true of the three elderly relatives – all in their eighties – who I know well. All have had to put up with severe lockdown for more than six months – two of them had their first proper evening together with family this Saturday gone.
Truth is as you get older there’s more chance of the next Christmas being your last and I sense they’re ready to take the risk and literally embrace their families once again.
Greengross, herself in her mid-eighties said: “Christmas is coming. What do we do about elderly people who long to see their family at Christmas and it looks as if they’ll not be able to? That’s absolutely awful.
“I think I would make an announcement just before Christmas that relaxed some of the rules, because most older people with families would prioritise seeing them, I think, over staying alive.”
She said life “always should be worth living” – with most people needing some form of social interaction.
Greengross, who has sat since 2000 on the House of Lords cross benches, said: “If I was going to be totally isolated from them all over the Christmas holiday without technology – because most of the people we’re talking about are not going to be experts in technology – I’m sure that I would, maybe for the last time, want to see my family.
“Finding ways of improving quality of life and the interaction with other human beings, which is what’s been so damaged with isolation, is more than just a luxury.
“Life always should be worth living, because we’re human beings. We’re social beings. We’re not isolated as a species — most of us need other people, and this isolation that can result is awful.”