Details of Boris Johnson’s promised “clear plan to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve” are yet to materialise. This is a shame because there is no reason for him to kick the can further down the road. The Institute for Public Policy Research has already outlined a credible solution to the crisis – free social care for all over-65s that need it, funded through general taxation. The proposal has received the backing of the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee, the older people’s charity Independent Age, the GMB union and many others.
Employers are being advised to put robust policies in place to support the one in four women experiencing debilitating peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms or face a raft of employment tribunal claims. Two MPs, Carolyn Harris and Rachel Maclean, plan to introduce legislation making it mandatory for every UK workplace to make provision for the women who experience horrendous physical and psychological symptoms when transitioning through the menopause.
Cuts to social care have put elderly pensioners at an increasing risk of malnutrition, placing a huge cost on an already overburdened NHS. Could the reinstatement of council-run Meals on Wheels services stem the rising tide of malnutrition cases?
The government has no plans to increase the value of the Funeral Expenses Payment, despite acknowledging that the average cost of a funeral has risen by 6% a year between 1980 and 2014, leaving many grieving families in funeral debt. There is help available, however, for people seeking help with their funeral costs.
The scrapping of the over 75s licence fee concession is one of the cruellest and most unnecessary benefit cuts to be carried out by this government because it will hit the housebound, the frail and disabled and the most socially isolated people hardest. New figures acquired by the Labour Party show that 11,688 people aged 100 years old or more, 109,083 people aged 95 plus and 469,622 people aged over 90 will be adversely affected by this callous policy.
The long-awaited Windrush compensation scheme has finally arrived. Despite declarations from the home secretary Sajid Javid that the fund “is simple, it is accessible and, above all, it is fair”, many Windrush generation residents will struggle to receive the recompense they are due as the payouts on offer are anything but just.
From 15 May 2019, where one half of a couple reaches state pension age and their partner is of working age, that couple will no longer be entitled to claim Pension Credit and pension age Housing Benefit, worth up to £13,273 a year. They will be forced to claim the less generous Universal Credit, worth around £5,986 a year, until the younger partner becomes a pensioner. The rule change, which comes into force with less than six months notice, will lead to a £7,000 loss in annual income.
Last year, more than 400,000 people were issued with a £100 fine for “misclaiming” NHS dental care. Many were elderly and frail, some had dementia and others were learning-disabled, according to the British Dental Association. Although entitled to the free care, they were fined because they struggled to understand a complex system of declarations.
The news that the National Audit Office is to launch an investigation into the use of penalty charge notices (PCN) in healthcare will bring a sigh of relief to the families of the hundreds of thousands of people struggling with their finances after being hit with a PCN. These £100 fines are issued to people who “misclaim” free NHS dental care after failing to understand the confusing system of declarations. They are also levied at people who wrongly claim a free NHS prescription after their medical exemption certificate has expired.
Under austerity “great misery has been inflicted unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children who are being locked into a cycle of poverty from which most will have great difficulty escaping,” Professor Philip Alston, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said.
Ageism is a significant problem within British society and is running riot in UK workplaces, a report produced by the Women and Equalities Committee states. As a result, the skills, talents and experiences of around one million over 50s are being squandered while businesses up and down the country opt for ‘energetic’, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘dynamic’ staff, with little experience and even fewer skills.
If there’s one good thing to emerge from the disgraceful Windrush scandal, it’s that the Commonwealth nationals who came to Britain in the 1940s will be in no doubt now about the deep affection the public has for them. The displays of solidarity and the widespread public anger at their callous treatment by the Home Office demonstrate that they are treasured and are integral to the fabric of modern British society.
A fall can be an unpleasant, distressing experience. Not only does a fall rob an older person of their health and vitality, but they can shatter their self-confidence and their ability to continue to live an independent life. Falls are not an inevitable part of ageing and the simplest way to avoid one is to embark on a regular exercise regime that focuses on improving balance and agility, and boosting muscle strength.
A dementia diagnosis can be life-shattering for those living with the condition and for their families, often struggling to cope on their own. The condition is now the leading cause of death in the UK. So it is disappointing to learn that despite the dementia awareness raising initiatives by the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and others, there are still some people from minority ethnic communities who - because of cultural norms or the stigma associated with the condition - are not informing their GPs when their thinking, concentration and communication skills are beginning to wane.