If you’ve seen the 2011 movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then apart from probably having a good laugh, you’ll also have seen a depiction of life as a pensioner being effervescent, fulfilling and worthwhile. Oh, that it could be so for everyone, but the truth is without good health, financial security and friends and family, old age can be a hostile and lonely existence.
As our population benefits more and more from extended life in a modern world it is vital that the government develops policies to help us deal with the challenges that accompany the blessing of old age.
On financial security I am pleased that the Government’s pensions ‘triple lock’ means that the basic state pension now rises annually by either inflation, earnings, or 2.5 per cent, whichever is highest. It is also right that older people continue to be financially supported with access to free prescriptions and Winter Fuel Payments – it all adds up.
Looking at our health, I commend the extra £20.5 billion the Government are investing in the NHS for our medical and clinical well-being. At some stage in our lives many of us will need social care support too and the changing age demographic has driven the need for a fundamental reform of policy in England. I therefore welcome the Government’s imminent announcements to further integrate health and social care and tackle the spectre of loneliness, offering people the bespoke support they need.
In Maidstone & The Weald we are lucky to have several wonderful voluntary organisations with the well-being of older people as their mission; the West Kent Befriending Service, CROP, our Men’s Sheds, The Wrinkly Network and others - I thank them all for the amazing work they do.
Society can be judged by how it looks after its older people – let us strive to be looked up to in that light.