Caring for the elderly
‘The UK can’t afford its over 65s’ was the headline in a national newspaper recently. It was just one of many voices saying the same thing: that our public health care system is facing a time bomb as life expectancy rises and the number of older people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s increases.
Other commentators say the problem is the cost of social programmes and the lost revenues of huge numbers of working age people who are unemployed. But many observers believe the real issue is the way money allocation is influenced by ageism and negative attitudes towards the elderly.
Dr James Grier, speaking at the Pilgrim Homes’ London conference in November said: ‘Within the healthcare system … in a pandemic you [the elderly] will be the last one to be helped. It’s amazing’.
There are many attitudes towards older people that say, in effect, they have had their day and resources shouldn’t be wasted on them. The ‘dignity in death’ lobby even wants assisted suicide made legal.
But Jesus said that love is a kingpin to the gospel (Mark 12:30-33). More than being idealistic, looking after our elderly with love acknowledges they have been made in the image of God. At Pilgrim Homes we feel that, against the darkening of the world, our members and supporters are ‘like the shining sun that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day’ (Proverbs 4:18).
Supporters kept the work of Pilgrim Homes alive through bread riots in the early 1800s, two world wars, and the Great Depression. These supporters are unsung heroes, faithfully turning out for meetings and organising events year after year. We need more Christians like these, who have a heart for their older brothers and sisters in Christ.