While the ageing of society has become one of the givens in today’s world, less is made of the lived experience of the very elderly in society. And although there is some suggestion that the much trumpeted steady expansion of the human lifespan has begun to slow down, the numbers of very old people continue to grow.
Despite this, debates about the resourcing of universal health and social care tend not to examine the costs associated with extreme ageing. Yet the problem of chronic conditions and multiple morbidity is greatest among octogenarians and nonagenarians.
Very old age, if commented upon, is presented as if it were a kind of extreme sports competition. Centenarians are celebrated simply for reaching 100. Nonagenarians hit the news when they run a mile, climb a mountain or pilot a plane. Otherwise, silence reigns. Yet the focus of most social care is on people aged 80 and over — a group for whom care is needed because health cures have failed them.
I – Word Understanding
Much trumpeted – celebrated
Morbidity – being sick or having health problems
Octogenarians – people aged 80 – 89 years old
Nonagenarians – people aged 90- 99 years old
II – Have Your Say
1. How do you feel about living very old?
a. Celebrate living longer
b. It’s a disaster, it swamps the resources of the society.
2. What are the most common health issues of elderlies in your country? Would you say there have been improvements in handling these conditions?
a. Alzheimer’s / Dementi
c. Hearing impairment
d. High blood pressure
3. How are the living conditions of elderlies in your country? What would you consider ideal for them?
a. Nursing homes
b. Day care homes
c. Living with relatives
d. Living alone