Older people must be given a greater voice
Published on 01 October 2016 10:00 AM
Older people must not be marginalised and their voices must be heard in their day-to-day lives, asserts Age Scotland on International Older People's Day (1 October).
We believe that the Scottish Household Survey, published this week, shows that older people face continuing barriers in their ability to participate in many aspects of our society.
For example, the survey reveals that older people are more likely to be sidelined by the digital revolution.
- Although 82% of adults regularly use the internet, this rate substantially reduces with age (only 69% of those aged 60-74 do, and this drops to 30% among the 75+ age group).
- Older people who do use the internet use it less often, are less likely to use sites which request personal or financial information (such as for online banking and shopping), and are less likely to take recommended security measures such as using unpredictable passwords and changing them frequently.
- They are also less likely to use digitally-enabled devices such as tablets and smartphones (88% of 16-34-year-olds use their smartphones to access the internet, but only 36% of those aged 65-74 and 19% of those aged 75+ do).
These patterns of use may be increasingly exposed as more and more public services are moved online. The survey also highlights that older people are more likely to put up with and less likely to speak out against problems in their local communities. Contrary to common stereotypes about crankiness and irritability in later life, older people are the least likely demographic group to complain to their local councils about common issues such as graffiti, dog fouling or noisy neighbours.
The survey also exposed that despite known instances of ageism taking place, fewer than 5% of people aged over 60 have reported experiences of harassment or discrimination. This follows evidence from the World Health Organisation that experiencing discrimination and ageism can directly impact people's mental and physical wellbeing.
Perhaps worst of all, older people feel marginalised and forgotten about. Only one-fifth of older people feel that they can influence decision-making on issues that directly affect them. Age Scotland is, therefore, calling on all organisations in Scotland to consider what they can do, not just to address older people's needs, but to involve them in all aspects of modern life.
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: "Clearly there is much work to be done in making our society more inclusive to older people. From the ‘digital divide' to neighbourhood decision-making, the scale of exclusion is staggering. "Older People's Day should be a day to recognise the value of all older people and celebrate the contributions they still make. As their national voice, Age Scotland will keep working to encourage everyone to love later life."