Older generation cannot be ignored

WITH the older population increasing all the time, it’s surprising the government hasn’t already appointed a minister to look after their interests.

In a world of so-called “tsars” and ambassadors – it’s often said Britain has more tsars than Russia – it would be quite a publicity coup for Messrs Cameron and Clegg if they took up the idea.

We have tsars for drugs, crime, enterprise, railways, internet, homelessness, respect, behaviour and a huge range of health issues – why not create a champion for our senior citizens?

At the moment 17 per cent of the UK population are over 65 years old, and by 2035 this will have risen to 23pc.

When I started as a junior reporter, it was rare to cover a 100th birthday – now it’s half a dozen times a year. Most are pretty sprightly, too, and often appear much younger than their years.

Recent calculations by scientists suggest some of us may live to be well over 100 years old – perhaps up to 120. Can you imagine how many World Cups you’d get to see? And still not see England win.

There are huge needs to address as we all get older – from the massive costs involved with increasing care, growing health needs and standards of care, to how we provide pensions, the sort of housing the elderly need, and keeping them fit and active.

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While many will stay fit and healthy – if we can crack the nation’s obesity crisis – for longer, the health service’s ability to deal with many more illnesses and problems will mean a huge rise in the cost of the NHS to all of us, as we keep people alive for all those extra years.

Grey Pride is the campaign calling for a dedicated minister for older people – someone to ensure the needs of older people are understood and represented.

Care worker Carl Martin, 26, the activities co-ordinator at The Firs Care, Felixstowe, was one of five people who went to 10 Downing Street to hand over a petition.

“Older people need to have a stronger voice in society,” said Carl.

“Nationally their needs aren’t really being addressed. There are all sorts of issues specific to older people and we need someone to champion their needs. It’s very important.”

I am sure they are on to a winner – Mr Cameron cannot afford to ignore 40pc of the voting public.