Pensioners suffering in the Britain of today
Good to see the picture special on the pensioners’ parliament (The Gazette, June 13).
Pensioners are sick of Tory parroting that they’ve never had it so good.
The National Pensioners Convention has just published an age audit on pensioners’ incomes, health, diet, lifestyle, social exclusion and future generations. This reveals a catalogue of problems:
* Some 1.9 million older people are living in poverty. British pensioners are the worst out of 37 developed countries in relation to wages and not being able to afford a decent lifestyle.
* Cuts of £6bn to adult social care means 1.2 million don’t get the care they need, with 500,000 to 800,000 suffering abuse and neglect.
* There are also among four million households living in fuel poverty, unable to heat their homes.
The Government can only start to address the issues facing older people when they show just what life is like for millions of pensioners in 21st century Britain. Then they can design and map out the kind of services and welfare that are needed to look after and support people after a longer and longer lifetime of work.
At the moment, the UK is not the best place in which to grow older and that needs to change for both today’s pensioners and the pensioners of tomorrow.
Turn it off and get outside... it’s nice
There have been a number of reports of the dangers of too much online gaming, with concerns ranging from sore thumbs to poor school results, although now the emphasis is on mental health.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) has now included it as a disorder in the draft version of the 2018 International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
The idea that it is a medical issue seems difficult to comprehend for those over 30.
The older citizens have their own ‘time wasters’ – crosswords, card games, sudoko – and these are not talked of as being addictive although another example, the poker machine, is a different matter altogether.
There seems to be many young people who spend much of their time online with Facebook – friends you have never met, YouTube – cats are cute and Instagram – photos that don’t seem real, but the issue is can they stop?
A medically defined online addiction needs to be treated in the way of most addictions including recognising the problem, stopping the action, finding the underlying cause and repairing relationships with family and friends. This is far more difficult than just switching off the device.
There needs to be an emphasis on a better use of time – study, sport and volunteering would be better options for themselves and others.
There also needs to be some control over the inclusion of game components designed to get young people playing and keeping them playing. Turn off, go outside and get some sunlight – it’s actually nice.
Don’t kill baby birds with kindness
At this time of year, we get calls from the public about the seemingly helpless baby birds they’ve discovered on the ground. But it’s vital that people resist the urge to intervene – this is a natural part of the bird’s development, so keep calm and step away.
Just before baby birds are ready to take flight for the first time, they leave their nest – ‘fledge’ as it’s called. Fledglings then spend a couple of days on the ground, developing their final flight feathers. The fledglings will hop around your garden in broad daylight – hence why members of the public are convinced they need rescuing.
Another common fear is that the fledgling has been deserted by its parents. But fledglings are unlikely to be abandoned. Mum and dad are probably off gathering food or hiding nearby, waiting for you to leave. Removing a fledgling from the wild reduces its chances of long-term survival. There are only a couple of situations when the public should lend a helping hand such as if it is immediate danger or injured.
However, sometimes a parent bird will intentionally eject a chick from the nest if they sense it has an underlying health problem or is dying. It’s a harsh truth to stomach, as humans we want to fix things, but sometimes we need to allow the law of nature to run its course.
RSPB Northern England