May 20, 2011

UK: We've become invisible to society say half of over 65s

LONDON, England / The Daily Mail / News / May 20, 2011

The ignored elderly:
We've become invisible to society say half of over 65s

By Kate Loveys

The elderly believe they have become invisible in Britain’s youth-obsessed society with more than half feeling ignored, a survey revealed yesterday. They fear being sidelined despite embracing modern technology such as surfing the web and going on Facebook and Twitter.

Pensioners claim that their opinion is never solicited, nothing on TV and radio is made for them and that they are written off by and ridiculed by society.

One grandfather even said that young people talk to the elderly ‘as if they want us to go away and die’.

The survey by the Nominet Trust, which works to increase access to the internet, found more than half of over-65s feel ‘silenced’ and ‘ignored’.

More than four in ten were unable to recall the last time someone asked their opinion.

Sidelined silver surfer: Despite embracing the internet, the elderly feel they are often written off and ridiculed

Nearly all the women questioned (92 per cent) were incensed that many celebrities – such as Arlene Phillips, 67, who was axed as a Strictly Come Dancing judge – find themselves sidelined after reaching a certain age.

The findings come despite Britain having an ageing population and the efforts of the older generation to stay in touch.

More than two-thirds regularly browse the internet to keep up-to-date with topical issues. In London, 91 per cent of pensioners use emails weekly.

Annika Small, director of the Nominet Trust, said: ‘It’s a nation that needs a hearing aid, not our pensioners.

'We have a terrible attitude to old people. We need to listen more and recognise that the retired are tech-savvy with a lot to say and a significant contribution to make to our society.’

The trust, which questioned 500 over-65s for the research, runs a blog called GreyMatters for older people.

A contributor, grandfather-of-five Alan Lodge, 64, from Roche, Cornwall, said: ‘People my age are treated with derision and lack of respect.

'Youngsters speak to us as if they want us to go away and die. I’ve been ridiculed and treated like an imbecile.

Favourites: Older men like Cheryl Cole while women like Phillip Schofield

‘Too many people my age encounter this and it just forces them to retreat from society. It’s wrong.’

The survey follows Age UK research revealing that ageism is the most widely experienced form of discrimination in Europe, with Britain topping the table.

Some 64 per cent of those interviewed here view age discrimination as a serious problem while the figure is 44 per cent across Europe.

The trust’s survey also asked the over-65s their views on celebrity and people in public life.

The favourites among women were Phillip Schofield, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. Men gave high rankings to Cheryl Cole, Holly Willoughby and Barbara Windsor.

Nearly one in five would like to give David Cameron a piece of their mind while 14 per cent wanted to chastise Wayne Rooney and 4 per cent were unhappy with Jeremy Clarkson.

Copyright: Associated Newspapers Ltd