Looking after the oldsters…

Bit of a serious one this week, but it will be more than made up for next week when it’s back to fun and frolics….

First published in Portsmouth News, Tuesday 10th December 2013.


Grandad Lush: the man, the legend. Pompey born and bred, and ninety years young on his next birthday. This fact astounds my daughters, partly because they think that anything older than forty is akin to dead, and partly because of his enthusiasm and energy for life. He finally retired when he was 75, shutting the doors of his last business, Shoot Pool on Fratton Road, in 1999.


My little girls adore their great-grandad, whose real name is Alf. (They were dismayed upon realising that this was not spelt with an ‘E’). There is a sense of comforting nostalgia that emanates from our grandparents; they hold so much of our past, yet sadly they get so little say as to what will happen in our futures.


I read this week of Esther Rantzen and her newly launched Silver Line. This is a senior take on Child Line, and elderly people can ring it should they find themselves alone or needing help. For some this may be because they have been widowed or their families have moved away, but for others, it is because they are ignored by, or not valued by, their relatives.


This seems achingly sad to me. Apparently half of all 75 year olds live alone, and 1 in 10 experiences ‘intense loneliness’. Surely the people we should respect the most in our families are those who have lived a life, who are experienced and knowledgeable and without whom we ourselves would never have existed?


There can be a pressure to look after our elders, and perhaps a fear as we see who we may become, but even if residential care becomes necessary, we must make time for regular visiting and telephone calls. I am trying to raise my daughters to respect their elders (after all, one day I may need them to wipe my bottom, so I need to keep them on side), but more than this, I want them to appreciate their elders.


We attach labels to people in life; the teenage lout, the doddering OAP, the yummy mummy. Whatever our age or gender, there is a detrimental stereotype to accompany it. None of us has any idea of who we will become in old age, but I do know that I feel exactly the same inside now as I did when I was eighteen. I cannot imagine this ever changing, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Grandad Lush would agree.


Silver line: 0800 4 70 80 90


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