Older people ‘seen as a burden’

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Most older people are rarely consulted about services which impact on their lives, leaving them feeling “stereotyped and ignored”, according to a new report.

A survey of 700 people over the age of 65 revealed that most feared they were seen as a burden on society, with the media encouraging the idea that they were a “problem.”

The report, by Brunel University, De Montfort University and older people’s charity the Royal Voluntary Service, said traditional services for older people encouraged “passivity and dependence”.

One in six of those polled said services offered were stereotypical ones which people thought older people would like.

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive, said: “The fact that, as a society, we are living longer is a wonderful thing but the challenges that this brings with it has led to older people being seen as a burden.

“This report lays out what many of us already know: that older people have a huge amount to give back to society and we should harness that expertise and enthusiasm to make services better for older people by involving them more in decision making.”

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “Our whole approach to health and care should be based on trying to help people have a good life. It’s self-evident that this has to be based on ensuring that older people have a voice.

“We must challenge negative language about ‘burdens’. We know older people have a great deal of experience and knowledge and make an extraordinary contribution to our health and care system. I welcome the report as an important step towards a positive later life for older people in England.”

What are your views?



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Terence Forster
30th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
When I met my wife she was 12 years old and I was 15. I worked as an Apprentice at the coal mines. At 14 years old her mother passed away and she was left with her father and two younger sisters to look after. When she was 17 years old we were married, the reason for our marriage was because her father passed away and we took her two sisters to live with us.
I had attended college throughout me apprenticeship and gained qualifications for engineering status. We relocated to my wife's area where her sisters had friends and I started a new position at the local colliery as an assistant Engineer on shift work.
I had a bad accident at this colliery where my left arm and hand were crushed under a fall of stone and spent two years in and out of hospital where they rebuilt my arm and hand with steel rods and wires. Debt was was very prevalent at this time and I could see no way of paying off what was owed.
One day I saw an advert in the local paper for a position in Saudi Arabia as an Engineer. I obtained the position and in one year paid off all our debts and put a deposit down on a new house.
This year on August 1st 2013, we will have been married for 50 happy years. Both my wife's sisters are happily married and we love one another with the same love, concern and respect we had for one another 50 years ago.
I have skin cancer as I spent 45 years working in the Middle East, Spondulitus of the upper and lower spine. Osteoarthritis in my shoulders and had both my knees replaced along with one hip replacement and suffer pain continually 24-7. My wife is a diabetic and struggles through life as diabetic's do.
Our love and caring for one another has never changed in all these years because we respect one another.
At times life has been hard for us, we have 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter on the way. We brought our children up, helped them in every way possible to get started in their married life, helped their children in times of need and now when when we are in need of help ourselves, we are left on our own to struggle daily.
My wife is the kindest most giving and considerate person I have ever known in my life. She would give her last penny away to anyone in need, no matter what circumstances prevail regarding us. I am owed thousands of pounds borrowed from us throughout our children's lives yet there is no return on our hard earned cash. I can hardly walk now, suffer pain continually and still have to cut my own lawn grass. My wife can hardly walk due to her Diabetes, but we struggle onward on a daily basis together with our love for one another most paramount in our lives. If perchance my wife was to pass away before me, I will sell my house and Move to Portugal with my 2 cats where the weather is warmer. I will buy myself a new car, a small boat so I can go fishing and generally enjoy my new wealth and lonely freedom. If I was to go first my wife will stay here in the UK until her end leaving everything to our children who don't put themselves out in any way to help us when we need their help.
It might seem like the above is an accusation of hatred for my family, this isn't so. I love all my children and Grandchildren and wouldn't see them without anything but, the difference is we give freely, they borrow and don't return. I often ask myself, why is it that they all have high power jobs with high power salaries and yet borrow all the time. We have only a state pension, no private pensions to live on, electricity and gas are our main worries especially in the cold weather yet we struggle onward together skimping on things we would like to have to make life easier for us.
At the end of the day when I kiss my wife goodnight I still thank God for the love I have received throughout my lifetime from my beloved wife. If I could go back to my young days I would choose the woman I married again. She is my Love, my soul mate, my friend, my beloved, no one could ever take her place.
30th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
That is so touching Terence. Thank you for sharing this, and I wish you continued love and happiness with your wife.
Graeme Harvey
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
I retired aged 62, 17 years ago. My wife died a year later and so I took up hospital and church voluntary work. I married again three years later and we had a great time until she died last year. So far I have been able to look after myself, though the large garden becomes more difficult to keep tidy as the years go on. Am I a burden ? Not yet, but I may be in the future.
Sue Hayles
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
Hi Heather,yes I do remember, I went straight into work,left school1 week started work the next,that's the way it was then,no Uni for me,I wanted to go to college to study catering,my mum couldn't afford it,no grants and loans those days,so I had to go to work in a hotel,scrubbing floors,peeling spuds,literally starting at the bottom and working my way up. I don't have any children so cannot comment about family allowance etc,but I know that times were hard for my mum bringing me up alone,working and taking care of me best she could.
More on paying dues my Father in law is 88 yrs old,he was a mid gunner in a lancaster when he was just 18 yrs old..he is a hero and he deserves respect.
Heather Taylor
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
Hi Sue
Do you remember when we started work if you didn't have a job you got nothing as your family was expected to support you even if you were ill as you didn't qualify for unemployment benefit until you had paid into tax & national insurance for 2 full year with no gaps. Also if you were a mum who didn't work you got nothing but if you did have children your husband (& it had to be husband not someone you lived with) he got a little extra tax relief for the children in his wage. We were lucky enough though to get a few extra pounds,(I do mean few,) as family allowance. If I remember right it was about £7 for 4 kids.
Good old days
Heather Taylor
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
I met my husband at 16, got engaged 17, married at 18 & had 1st child at 19. By then I had worked from 15 as started a job the same week I took my last exam & worked until 4 days before I gave birth. In this time I had saved for the deposit for a house & all the necessary furniture, cooker etc we needed. From then I had 4 children over 9 years to look after & a mortgage, bills, food, clothes etc to take care of & I worked evenings if needed extra money then went back to work full time when the youngest was 11 & although I am now 62 & my husband is 74 & we are both still working as foster carers. During this time we have never had a penny of state money as along with most of people of our era if we couldn't afford it we didn't have it, this includes automatic washers, colour tv's, holidays, new furniture, expensive toys etc. all these we waited & saved for. We would like to retire & have time to relax & do our own thing but the pensions we put aside for are paying less than £100 a week thanks to being taken for a ride by government, investment/insurance companies, & bankers. We do get state pension but feel we have paid every penny we are going to get back towards it.

Today there seem to be a good number of people who have no intention of taking advantage of the free education offered or working for a living but expect to do as they like & have all the luxuries of life, laptops, Blackberry's games consoles, designer clothes etc at others expense. There are also others who are working in big business who are making large amounts of money at others expense & giving nothing back to society as avoid all the taxes etc they can.
To me the middle man/woman trying to work & pay their own way today seem to be getting the short straw all round. Am I wrong?
Sue Hayles
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
Hi Heather, you are absolutely spot on my friend, I can only echo what you say,I have worked since I was very young, odd jobs,chores for people always had to earn my money and glad of it. It taught me a fantastic work ethic , I never expected to get handouts,you work you get paid end of! (sadly this is missing in so many people these days)
I am one of the so called 'baby boomers' who had it so good. I have paid my dues and so did my late Husband who sadly died at the age of 46. I was 5 months from being 45 and as such it was the governments considered opinion that I would receive no Widows Pension as I was under 45 and would probably marry again. All I received was £1000 which didnt cover the funeral costs...18 yrs on and I have not married again,just received my state pension, the NI contributions which my late Husband paid for almost 30 yrs,seems to have vanished completely,I have not inherited any of it. So which pot does that go into not mine!
I get very angry when I hear people in high places say that the country is in crisis today because of the elderly,they are such a terrible drain on our resources,especially the NHS, pensioners are becoming scapegoats,easy targets. What the government should be looking at is getting people back to work,not living off of benefits when they are more than capable of doing a days work,get them out into the community helping ,the disabled,the pensioners etc and of course immigration,don't get me wrong I am not prejudice in any way,but the drain on our resources is due to our open door policy,our country is being weighed down by people coming here and using our NHS,our schools, taking benefits that they have not contributed towards. Pensioners are not a burden,they have paid their dues and deserve to be taken care of
Kay Sutton
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
I do worry about what will happen to both my husband and myself. Fortunately, we are in quite good health now, compared to others of our age. But as we get older, will we need help? Being ill, unable to walk anything that means we cannot leave the house. There is only the two of us, we do have two grandchildren, but why should we be a burden to them? So much is being said about the NHS these days, I worry about if either of us, have to go into hospital, and if we will have the care that is needed?
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
after all the last generation have been through, they deserve a well earned rest without having to worry about pensions, heating bills, how much they can or cant afford to spend on food etc... No person, whether elderly, middle aged, young or mentally/physically challenged should be seen as a burden. What the governments have done over the years is appalling. The ministers get larger wage packets and pay offs and the pensioners get crippled with rising taxes and bills...... seems to me they are seen to be a burden by those who resent any funds going to them....
Julie Lamber
27th Jun 2013
Thanks for voting!
I consider that at the age of 63 (just) !! I have enough experience and knowledge to be considered helpful to the society that I have worked in for over 45 years..... I have never looked at myself as being a burden and would strongly oppose that thought ..... I have (in my 63 years) tackled and done to the best of my ability, a range of careers and have gained sufficient knowledge to succeed in each and every one of them. I like me very much LOL.

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