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Attitudes Must Alter

From Senior London - The Greater London Forum for Older People's campaign to change attitudes towards older people

The realisation by the pushers and manipulators of our lives and society, has been brought round to the consensus view that there is a profound problem with our "ageing" society and we no longer regard its retired members as uneconomic, i.e., not working and therefore not contributing to economy and simply to be put on the scrap heap.

However, old habits die hard and underlying ageist attitudes are still with. Yet a new level of awareness is coming about. Independent reports; TV programmes like the recent Tony Robinson's "Me and My Mum" and our campaigning, is a reflection of that.

The GLF campaign started in January 2006 with the focus on adult education and life long learning. Our showing of Amanda Waring's film "What Do You See?" and the Panel debate with the audience contributes to the campaigning and, with recent media coverage on social care, is perfect timing.

The Government can fairly claim that it has moved the agenda in legislating on the "problem" of older people. There has been a plethora of Government papers and Directives. From the launch of the NHS Plan "Our health, Our Care, Your Say," the "Sure Start Programme", Opportunity Age and now the Mayor of London Strategy for Older People, there is a serious and fundamentally different approach to bringing about change.

An example of this new approach can be seen in the new Directives where the emphasis is on older people's participation in local and national decision-making processes relating to services and the community. Local Authorities must declare to what extent they have undertaken meaningful engagement with older people and the change in law regarding the employment of of older people and their rights. These very positive approaches are very welcome.

The cultural attitude to older people needs to change. Many older people have ageist attitudes belittling themselves as well as those of different generations. There needs to be more intergenerational participation in the community - more understanding of the younger culture and value and respect for older people's knowledge and experience. Often attitudes are not part of a deliberate act to hurt, ignore or humiliate, but pure thoughtlessness and many examples can be identified in Amanda Waring's film.

Older people want the same as all other members of society - to be given the same opportunities, choice, respect and value.
As attitudes change towards older people, so older people respond to the change.

Please join the GLF campaign to change attitudes to older people. Through the Government directives we have the foundations on which to build these changes and to move forward to offer equality, respect and a positive future for our last 50 years of life.