In a statement today Positive Ageing in London (London’s regional Age forum of older people and age organisations in London) criticised media reports that the Government is considering a continued ‘shielding’ of people over 70 until there is a vaccine available or an effective treatment, neither of which is likely to happen for many months.
In making decisions about the ongoing control of the pandemic and any relaxation measures, the Government should bear in mind not only the risks of the Virus but also the risk of prolonged isolation on mental and physical health which would adversely affect older people. While supporting a continued lock down for all until it is safe to start the process of relaxation, when this does happen, it is important that health and not age is the key criterion.
And the Government needs to recognise the contributions of older people to society through work, volunteering and civic society, and to families as informal carers of children or other older people. Any prolonged lock-down over 70s would delay economic recovery post virus as the spending power of the older people would be curtailed. Older people contribute in many positive ways and them being locked down will have adverse consequences for the UK which have not been assessed.
- Half a million people over the age of 70 work
Economic contribution and the silver economy
- Consumers aged 50 and over already spend £319 billion a year (excluding housing): equivalent to roughly 54% of total household consumer spending
- Households aged 65 and over are the fastest growing consumer group and are driving the rapid increase in total spending by all older households.
- Spending by older households – particularly those aged 65 to 74 – increased during the last recession and fell for younger households.
- 29 per cent of over 65s volunteer regularly in charity work – the loss would hit further what will be a decimated charity sector
- There are 2 million carers over the age of 65
- Nearly seven million grandparents provide regular childcare for their grandchildren aged under 16 – the total amount of money saved by workers whose elderly parents look after their children is estimated at £16.4billion a year.
- One in four local councillors are over 70
- There are 28 MPs over the age of 70 and 52 per cent of the House of Lords are over 70
Chris Walsh, Chair of Positive Ageing in London stated, “We do understand that the mortality rate of Covid-19 increases with age and that there is a need to protect those at highest risk.
“However, we urge the Government to take a nuanced approach to pandemic control measures based on known risk factors rather than a crude age-based cut-off point which will be negative fort older people and the recovery of the UK.”.
“We recommend that a risk-calculator is developed based on current medical evidence which older people could then use to assess their individual risk. Each risk score should be accompanied by advice on what protective action should be taken”.
CONTACT – Chris Walsh Chair of PAIL – tel 07440 022428; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS –
- Positive Ageing in London (PAIL) – London’s regional age forum – brings individual older Londoners from all backgrounds and London-wide and local organisations from both the voluntary and statutory sectors to inform and give a voice to older Londoners, to consider age issues and concerns in London and agree common solutions
- For further information please see our website – www.pailondon.org.uk