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Wednesday, September 23, 1998 Published at 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK


Fearing the age factor

Many middle-aged people are frightened of getting old

Middle-aged people have a very negative view of old age and fear being isolated and patronised by the young, according to a survey for Help the Aged.

The survey of 40- to 85-year-olds found that many people are willing to provide unpaid care to older relatives, but few elderly people like to receive it.

Older people also said they were not getting the services they needed. Most wanted to remain independent and live at home.

They disliked day centres and viewed residential homes as a last resort. They also reported a widespread feeling of unfairness.

Despite agreeing that they should contribute some money towards their care costs, they felt it was unjust that they could end up with virtually nothing to show for years of work and saving.

People on higher incomes were more likely to have a positive view of retirement.


Head of public affairs at Help the Aged, Mervyn Kohler, said: "We must act now to reverse these negative attitudes to old age.

"That can be done if we give people the services they want, offer them a choice about where they receive care when they get older and clearly define who pays what for care in old age."

[ image: The Royal Commission on Long-Term Care will advise on future policy]
The Royal Commission on Long-Term Care will advise on future policy
The survey is published on Thursday, the day Help the Aged, the Alzheimer's Disease Society and Age Concern give evidence to the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care, which will report back at the end of the year.

Help the Aged believes older people should be involved in deciding what services they receive.

It wants a strategy that promotes joint working, independence, inclusion and quality care.

The charity says many models of service are outdated. It favours a compulsory, income-related tax to fund long-term care.

The Alzheimer's Disease Society also supports a strategy which promotes independence and supports carers.

It wants regular reviews of services which its says should be determined by the needs of the individual.

It also calls for dementia care management units to be set up in every area to deal with the growing number of sufferers.

Community care authorities

Age Concern unveiled its views on the future of long-term care last week.

It is calling for a cheaper, more equal and more open system of care which provides free social and health care to the elderly.

It also proposes the setting up of new community care authorities to provide long-term care and a state-funded scheme which allows young people to save for future care provision.

The British Medical Association has also revealed its proposals. It wants to see national eligibility criteria and a compulsory job-based insurance scheme for long-term care.

It says the government should pay for those who cannot afford to contribute to the scheme.

The BMA says minimum levels of provision should be available free, with individuals being allowed to top up on the standard local services.

It also wants a national independent advocacy service to ensure elderly people do not lose out on services.

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