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Older Age

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Older Age by Derek Wyatt
The statistics do not lie. We are all going to live longer and when our health declines it is likely that instead of just dying of cancer or a heart related illness we will die of two or three illnesses. So, we are as likely to die of cancer as much as cancer and dementia or cancer and diabetes.
Living longer puts a strain on the NHS; living longer with more complex illnesses double the strain. The NHS is already at its wit’s end no matter what the politicians promise from their magic boxes.
Living longer puts an additional strain on housing. We will have a population of nearly 80m by 2030. We simply have no long term plans as to how to build more houses, how to build house-specific accommodation for young or single people or for our older people as they downsize. And the quality of new builds, given houses (but not flats) last for a century or more, is poor. Poor design and poor internal spaces with no garages, no basements, no automatic internet access (it is a utility after all) and no alternative energy supplies. Far too many new builds are superior rabbit hutches.
The consequence of all this is that the housing demand will never be met. Those with their own houses will benefit the most but those without will suffer higher rents and worse facilities. We have a housing crisis already let alone in 2030. All this and a more complex death does not bode well.
Then, there’s another unintentional consequence. Having no retirement age means people who should have retired staying much longer in their posts. This, in turn, means those in their 30s and 40s expecting to be promoted have to wait longer for that to happen and bring up their families on less than they could have expected a decade ago. It also means their work pensions will be smaller when they come to retire so they too will go on working longer: vicious and circle come to mind.
Of course, the market has moved to accommodate these trends – many of our people now work with zero hour contracts virtually unprotected by Parliament. Our care and social workers are not paid travelling time between visits to those most needy.
This is not the way we should be treated. Nor is it reasonable that we cannot afford to pay into a second pension (as though anyone could live on the current OAP without further welfare support but that’s an aside). We are storing up major long term problems if we do not change the current employment laws. 
Of course, with an election in the offing, our political parties are beginning to promise us the moon. So here’s some cheese for them to consider. The NHS has gradually introduced charges – prescriptions now cost the equivalent of two pints of a beer (£8.05), a visit to your dentist can cost over £100 (and NHS dentists are rarer) and double that for spectacles though the annual check up is free.
The NHS needs more funding not £2 billion here and £2 billion there every time the politicians change the system but £10 billion extra here every year. This can only be paid for in three ways: more tax or less for other departments like defence or overseas aid or being brutal and asking people to pay towards their food in hospital, their travel home in ambulances, their A&E visit or whatever. Something has to give.
The status quo is not sustainable: look at the statistics.        


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