“Society’s obsession with youth has gone so far that older people are being sidelined and ignored,” is the message from Lord Williams of Oystermouth to mark his appointment as Patron of the Abbeyfield Society.
“Too many people make the mistake of thinking that after a certain age, people are bound to be dependent and that they won’t have ordinary human needs, interests or energy”, commented Lord Williams.
“This is a quite wrong. Society is the exchange we have with each other and what we offer changes at different points in our lives.
“Older people give so much and yet they tend to be ignored and therefore invisible. It seems that on the relatively rare occasions that the national conversation does turn to the over 65’s, it does so in terms of anxiety and in the belief that they are a drain on society.
“One of the reasons that I am pleased to support Abbeyfield is because it is a volunteer led-organisation which values older people for their abilities as much as it cares for their needs”
“Getting older can be a challenge, but it can also be a great joy and bring valuable rewards. Older people contribute a huge amount to the UK, not least in volunteering, helping their families with childcare and increasingly as experienced and valued career people. They are anything but a drain and when they need support, society should give it generously.”
Lord Williams continued, “The important issues affecting the over-65s aren’t high enough up society’s agenda or in some cases not even on the radar at all. Too many of us ignore the challenges of ageing until we have to support our parents or until we ourselves are becoming frail.
“Often it is not until these issues stare us in the face that we wake up to the need to make society a better place for people of all ages. The first step has to be to talk about the contribution older people make and the issues that affect them with an open heart and due respect.”
The Abbeyfield charity houses over 8,000 people living in a supported family like atmosphere with the help of over 9000 volunteers. It has won many awards for its work in housing and care of the elderly.