Helen Martin: Let’s call a truce in the generations war

The worst part of ageing is the slow and gradual acceptance of mortality and death
The worst part of ageing is the slow and gradual acceptance of mortality and death
Have your say

THE government chose to keep the triple lock on pensions and universal winter fuel payments, and older generations continue to be blamed and criticised for being smugly better off.

Those who are comfortable didn’t become so by selfish intent. Their comparative wealth is accidental, down to the values and opportunities society offered in their lifetime.

Jeremy Corbyn's age does not seem to be an issue

Jeremy Corbyn's age does not seem to be an issue

Higher wages were due to many factors including trades union representation and greater employment by privately-owned companies rather than today’s UK dominance of public companies which have to pay out to shareholders.

Many older people are not well off, or are living on the breadline. Not all were able to benefit from the good times, save, move up the housing ladder or build healthy occupational pensions.

One of the greatest concerns for older people regardless of their income, is the challenges their children face with austerity, dwindling pay and soaring property prices, and no sign of a government solution to reverse these problems.

The misguided notion that older people are living in clover, cruising their way round the world, living it up at the golf club and brushing their teeth with champagne seems to have changed younger folks’ perception of growing old . . . something that the elderly themselves rarely want to reveal or discuss. That would be negative, make them appear vulnerable - and scare the pants off their younger relatives.

Real ageing and ageism begins with the 50s. Anyone made redundant in today’s world starts job-hunting with optimism but many soon realise their chances of being employed in their chosen field again are minimal.

The realisation that your career is over and you must rethink ambition is tough, especially as everyone is allegedly living longer and increasingly expected to work till 70.

In that respect, 50 is the new 40. But pass that half century and Saga mail comes flooding through the letter box. Local authorities and community centres run exercise classes, friendship clubs and bingo sessions for the “over 50s”. Hit 60 and there’s a bus pass. Market researchers ring with surveys, ask your age, then apologise for calling because they only want the opinions of those aged under 59. It all makes you feel “old”.

Retirement brings the chance (if you can afford it) for holidays and rest. But age also brings physical deterioration, aches and pains, medical conditions, and loss of strength. The 70s and 80s loom.

The worst part of ageing is the private, unspoken realisation that you may live for another 30 years, or perhaps only ten, and so begins the slow and gradual acceptance of mortality and death. Will you know your grandchildren, let alone last long enough to see them grow up? If or when will dementia steal your independence, mind and memories? But keep your chin up!

The cost of old age is rising. Increasing numbers need care visits and care home fees set at thousands a month.

Above all they’re desperate to leave the next generation money to compensate if government policy continues to let them down.

No wonder we don’t want to talk about all that. It’s depressing and morbid. But sharing it might bring understanding to end the generation disconnect. We are all in this together, including the “comfortably-off” elderly who, through no fault of their own, were born in better financial times.

They grow up so quickly these days

AND another age issue – why today, in newspapers and on television news, is an 18-year-old, whether a victim or criminal, described as a “man” or “woman” They could still be at school!

It may be that police statements to the press describe anyone of 18 or over that way. Or that because 18 rather than 21 now marks legal – if not physical and mental – maturity, it is considered politically incorrect to “infantilise” a young person by calling them a girl, boy, or teenager.

It’s the same at the other end. “Ordinary” people over 60 or 65 are often described as pensioners . . . but not Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn! Age labels are tricky.

Congestion is a charged issue

THERE is no point in introducing a congestion charge in Edinburgh despite the opinions of Friends of the Earth and, I’m sure, the desires of the city council to pull in more cash.

Why is the first solution to congestion and pollution – like any other problem – always to hammer the public even in such austere times?

Volvo’s pledge is that from next year every new model will be part or wholly electric, and that is bound to galvanise other manufacturers to follow suit.

The government misled us into buying diesel cars, a mistake that, along with diesel bus and lorry fumes, increased toxic gases. Why shouldn’t they subsidise us in part to go electric or hybrid this time? As for charging points, surely the cost of installing them (apart from in personal garages) should be borne by electricity suppliers who will reap the profits?

Yes, it will all take some time. But if congestion charges were to be introduced now, would they apply to buses, taxis and lorries too? And would councils repeal them once electric cars took over? No chance.

Perhaps 20 is plenty after all

BY inches we missed a head-on collision with a madman overtaking on a blind corner outside the Astley Ainsley. Now the 20mph limit doesn’t seem so daft!