Showing posts with label old age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old age. Show all posts

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The not-so-golden years

Thousands of Scots face decades of poverty in retirement.

More than four out of ten questioned by Scottish Widows admitted they hadn't considered how they would survive when they gave up work. Almost as many optimistically said they would look to their children for financial support, while one in seven expected the state to cover their costs.

According to Aviva, 50 to 65 year olds underestimate the length of their retirement by up to eight years. Women put the average lifespan for a reasonably healthy person at 84 years, while men say it is 80, but they could well live to 89 and 88 respectively.

A survey by HSBC found that despite almost six out of ten UK workers worrying they won't have enough to retire on, the economic downturn has prompted more than four out of ten to cut their pension savings or stop altogether. Just over half of those taking part in the HSBC survey said they simply couldn't afford to save enough and a third said paying off debts was preventing them.

According to Prudential, a fifth of those planning to retire this year still have debts averaging just under £22,000, which will further diminish their standard of living.

No one should expect to live well on a state pension alone, the amount people get will still be meagre. Even with a complete NI record - which has been set at 35 years - the maximum individual pension is expected to be around £150 a week, or £7,800 a year.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Too young to die, too old to live

There's no question that the population's aging is of major importance, and that it will change the whole tenor of social life health care, the consumer culture, architecture, living arrangements, and even population sex ratios, since women live longer than men. But the real crisis for capitalism and its governments is that the costs of health care and pensions will grow, something that's usually presented as a "burden" on the non elderly members of society. Older people are not to be cared for, even cherished they're a cost that has to be minimised in the name of fiscal prudence, growth, and productivity. Unless older people are to starve, some provision for their income must be made. In pre -industrial societies, where life is short, people tend to work until they can no longer, and then their families take over. With industrialisation families break apart, and such informal arrangements can no longer be relied on.

According to the doomsters, there are many faults to existing pension systems. Too many of the benefits go to affluent retirees, funds that could be better targeted to the poor; public pensions crowd out spending on other worthy public purposes, like education; the assurance of a reasonably generous income at retirement discourages personal saving; and the retired are essentially a parasitic layer of old folk feeding off the non-old. While a public system may work well when it's young, when the number of contributors greatly outweighs the number of retirees drawing on it, as the system matures, the rate of outgo rises to match the rate of income. "Who pays for what?" This is the central question in public finance. But this one question is actually two questions: "who pays?" and "for what?"

Your wage or salary is the sum of money necessary to reproduce your ability to work and your pension is nothing else than wages or salaries deferred until you retire, money that employees would have been paid as cash salary but choose, instead, to have placed in the state operated or company pension fund where the money can be professionally invested (at a lower cost of management) for the future. Expecting individuals to be experts at investing their retirement money in defined contribution plans — instead of pooling the money so professional investors can manage the money as is done in defined benefit plans — is not sound economics. The concept, at its most basic, is buying wholesale instead of retail. Wholesale is cheaper for the buyers.

With pension rule changes, expecting workers to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs. What they are actually asking is that the employees take a pay cut. Unions agreeing to these deals on their benefits are accepting the obligation their members paying for them out of their own pockets.

Some commentators have made the point that, while it is true that it is state-employees’ own money that funds the pension plan, when the pension plan comes up short it is up to the employer to make up the difference. There is some truth in this – but not as much as many seem to think.

Because the pension plan is a defined benefit plan – requiring the state to pay the agreed benefit for however long the employee may live in retirement- if the employee lives longer than the actuarial plan anticipated, the taxpayer is on the hook for the pay-outs during the longer life. But is this the fault of the employees? The pension agreements are the result of collective bargaining. That means that the state has had every opportunity to properly calculate the anticipated lifespan and then add on some margin for error.

Nor can the losses taken by the pension funds over the past few years be blamed on the employees. We had employers failing to make annual payments (taking regular extended pension holidays in the past) for their pension systems. There has been lower investment returns from the recession and increased taxation by the government on funds, not at all linked to the employee outrageous audacity of living longer.

 Concerns over the effect of increasing life expectancy – sometimes described as a "burden" – are only smoke screens. We need to be clear – lowering pension levels and raising the retirement age are in effect real pay cuts.

Pensions are a transfer payment from the profits of the capitalist class – which ultimately come from what workers as a whole produce. That there is at present a "problem" once more proves that the market economy is incapable of going beyond the limits of the wages system. It cannot adequately provide for the needs of the class that produces and distributes all the wealth in the first place.

Advances gained from the increased productivity of our labour – including an increased life span – are being clawed back by capital to its advantage, pushing the burden from the capitalists onto the workers.

The capitalist class encourages us to see their interests and problems as ours. As a result we find our lives opened up to the chaos and uncontrollable insanity of the market. The market system cannot provide any security for us in the long run, which is why we need to turn the current struggle over wages, salaries, and pensions into a politically organised movement for a society based upon the direct satisfaction of human needs.

Many politicians call for the raise of the retirement age to 70. This isn't based on any evidence that people are working longer and don't actually need it, but on the fact that people are living longer and draining from the fund longer than in years past. In fact, the real belief is that many who have to retire before 70 will do so for health reasons on truncated benefits and die before they ever reach 70, thus saving the system money. Those few that actually can and do work until 70 will continue to pay into the system, so it's a win/win move. Added to that is the fact that earners in the top half of the economic strata have a longer life expectancy than those in the bottom half and have a far greater chance of making it to 70 and drawing full benefits Another solutions though could be raising the rate of immigration since immigrants (legal or not) tend to be young, and swell the ranks of those paying into the system rather than drawing it down. GDP growth will, since the size of the economy decades hence will determine how much money is available to pay retirees. The bankruptcy scenario is based on an assumption that GDP will grow at a rate seen only in depression decades.

Also, the World Bank, the voice of world capitalism, proposes a three -pillared system to finance pensions. A mandatory public system, financed by tax contributions on a pay-as-you go basis, to provide a minimum floor income for the elderly possibly a single, flat-rate benefit for all. The second is a mandatory privately managed system, financed by contributions from either employers, workers, or both a form of forced saving with the accumulating balances invested (Privately management in order to prevent the backdoor nationalisation of the private sector that could occur if public entities invested their funds in the stock market). And the third is a system of similarly invested voluntary savings, also financed by worker and/or employer contributions, but not required by law. The public pillar would assure a minimum income (subsistence) in old age, but nothing terribly comfortable. Comfort would only be achieved through the second and third pillars.

Increasing reliance on private savings, forced or voluntary, to fund retirement takes it on faith that funds invested in the stock and bond markets will magically grow to meet rising needs. Over the very long term, interest rates on long-term bonds average about the same as economic growth rates. Stocks do better than this, but it seems economically unwise to bet that financial asset prices can forever grow more rapidly than the value of the underlying real assets the present and future profits of private corporations they're a claim on.

The Bank's favorite model is Chile yet the Chilean system fails to live up to the Bank's promises. The poorest, supposedly protected by a "safety net," get a payment equivalent to a loaf of bread and a cup of coffee per day. Less poor workers are hardly well taken care of by the new system; it's likely that about half of all retired workers will fall under the official poverty line. Women, with lower wages and longer lives than men, come up particularly short. Administrative costs are far higher than the old public system; investment managers are a lot more expensive than public sector bureaucrats. As with most private pension funds, workers have no say over how their savings are used; fund managers cast the stockholders' votes by their own lights, even though they're really only the workers' agents. In the USA the The National Academy of Social Insurance detailed some options workers could pay more; reduce benefits; reduce the cost of living adjustment; increase the age for full retirement benefits; lengthen the career-earnings averaging period; and reduce benefits for new beneficiaries.

The ones being sacrificed on the altar of economics are society's oldest and frailest, an almost inevitable result of the pursuit of profit above all else in our society.

It is encouraging to see the fight back by the public sector unions. The gains made by wage and salary workers on pay, pensions and other related issues have not, after all, been granted by benevolent governments or employers – they had to be fought for. If those gains are to be defended, democratic and unified action by workers is necessary. If governments and employers win on pensions and wages they will try it again with something else. Nevertheless, important as activity of this sort is today it still does not get to the crux of the question.

The Socialist Party urges all workers to consider their position. Workers have to strike because they are slaves to the capitalist class who buy our lives by the week or by the month. So, besides making the greatest possible use of trade unions, we ask for recognition that even at their best such action cannot bring permanent security or end poverty. No strike can stop a government determined to have its way. In the end the logic of capitalism will always win out.

While trade union activity, including strike action, is necessary as long as capitalism lasts it can't work miracles. There can be no lasting solution to the problems the market economy creates within the market system itself. Austerity and insecurity, in a world of potential plenty, is always the lot of the working class. In addition to trade union action socialist political action is needed on the basis of a clear understanding and awareness of our class interests.

Unions cannot make revolutions – only the working class themselves can do that, through clear, democratic, determined political action.

Our interests are opposed at every point to those of the capitalist class. Our cause can only be the cause of revolution for the abolishing of classes based on a real understanding of our position as workers. Without that understanding, militancy can mean little.

The Socialist Party does not ask for blind support. We do not put ourselves forward as potential leaders. What we seek is understanding. Over the past century we have seen movements rise and fall, we have heard slogans fade into distant echoes, we have encountered scores of "solutions" loudly acclaimed only to be discarded.

The single, simple fact we urge working people to recognise is that capitalism generates problems it is incapable of solving. Workers are so busy taking care of the business of capitalists, we don't have the time and the resources to take care of ourselves. The remedy – the only remedy – is to consciously end the property system that divides and oppresses us.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Poor Scots and rich ones

In 2011/12, there were 710,000 (14%) Scots in poor households of which 420,000 working age adults, 140,000 pensioners and 150,000 children were living in relative poverty, 80,000 children were living with combined material deprivation and low income.

Within the last two years, Scottish incomes have gone down from an average of £461 per week to £436.

Welfare measures including changes to eligibility for child tax credits and working tax credits which could, on average, mean that households will become around £700 per year worse off.

Child poverty levels are expected to soar in Scotland over the next few years by at least 50,000, taking the total number of children who live in families that struggle daily to provide to over 280,000.

Ian Marchant, CEO of  Scottish Power had received £1.45m in 2011.The company's annual report showed he earned a basic salary of £870,000, up by £30,000. He also received shares worth more than £1m from the firm's long-term bonus plan. His pension was worth £680,000 - a total package of more than £2.63m 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The old and the lonely

10,000 over-75s in Scotland will spend Christmas Day alone because their children are too busy to visit them, a new report claimed today. Across the UK, the survey found a total of 363,176 older people had children too busy to see them. The study by the older people’s charity WRVS said many elderly people were left isolated and lonely because their families had moved away, often to find work. But almost two-thirds of older people said they would not tell their children they were lonely because they did not want to “bother them”. In the Lothians, around 1700 over-75s will be on their own on Christmas Day.

Earlier research from the WRVS showed 27 per cent of Scots over-75s feel lonely – more than in any other part of the UK. 11 per cent of older people in Scotland lived at least one hour’s drive away from their nearest child, which meant almost half were visited just once every two to six months. The survey found lack of job security and changes in the labour market had increased the pressure on families, with 82 per cent of children who moved away from their older parents having done so for work reasons. Margaret Paterson, head of operations for WRVS Scotland, said: “Many children have no choice but to move away from their older parents, and really regret the fact they aren’t close enough for more regular visits.”

Only 28 per cent of older people in Scotland spoke to their children on the phone every day, compared with 40 per cent across the UK. Most older people did not use Skype to talk to their children, many because they did not know how BUT OF those who do 85 per cent said it helped them feel more connected. The regularity of Skype in Scotland is that 75 per cent of those who use Skype do so weekly,

A separate report warned lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Researchers found it was not so much the fact of living alone as feelings of loneliness which increased the risk of having the degenerative brain disease.

Meanwhile average train fares have increased by more than 26 per cent since the start of the recession, almost three times faster than wages, new research revealed today, making even harder for families to visit. Fare rises will outpace wages and inflation again in 2013, with the cost of some fares set to soar by ten per cent, while pay is forecast to rise by an average of 2.5 per cent.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The other drug problem

A study found almost half of elderly people may be kept on sedatives that make them “easier and more convenient to manage” for much longer than necessary. Research has shown people with dementia who take these drugs are at a much higher risk of stroke.

The report by Dundee University and NHS Fife, carried out over a two-year ­period in Tayside, found two in five elderly people in care homes were taking the drugs – compared to just one in six who still lived in their homes in the ­community. It also found that seven in ten people who were taking the drugs when they went into the care homes were then never reassessed to see if they still needed them.

Dr Colin McCowan, deputy director of the Health Informatics Centre at Dundee University, and one of the authors of the report, said: “Some elderly people are taking these drugs to make it easier and more convenient for people to manage them and for them to cope. Often this could start when they are living at home, on their own, and when they are waiting to go into residential care. But then, when they go into care many are kept on them and remain on them. No-one checks to see if they still need them. Some of these individuals and their families will know about them taking them, but there is evidence some won’t." He said the use of the drugs, known as psychotropic medication, which includes anti-psychotics, was a growing concern to health officials. Dr McCowan said guidelines for the use of the medication stated they should not be used, in most cases, for more than six months. He also said previous research had shown many of the anti-psychotics being prescribed to patients were likely to be having “very little beneficial effect” and could usually be gradually stopped without side effects.

Dr Donald Lyons, chief executive officer of  Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland – an independent body set up to safeguard the interests of people considered to be mentally disordered, said: “Anti-psychotic drugs are unquestionably being overused, more so in care homes but also, to a lesser extent in hospitals. The bottom line is more needs to be done to reduce the number of these drugs being prescribed. The rates are too high...At the end of the day, patients should only ever get any drug if it is for the benefit of their health, not for any other reason, not least to keep them more manageable."
The commission said providing more adequate outside space and stimulating environments were some of the ways to help people cope. Dr Lyons added: “Yes, this costs money, money to pay for the right environment and additional care but surely that is money well spent in the long run."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Old and in the way?

160,000 pensioners in Scotland are living in relative poverty – with an income of less than 60 per cent of the national average. Prices for pensioners have risen 20 per cent since the beginning of the financial crisis. By contrast, inflation for UK households as a whole prices have risen 16 per cent. An older person living alone is said to have experienced a 26.5 per cent increase in the cost of the things they buy since 2007 when the current financial crisis began.

 Today’s pensioners are experiencing real hardship, with nearly half living on an income below £10,000 a year. Those with private pensions have experienced a worrying drop in the value of their pension because of low interest rates, which are being held down by the Bank of England’s policy of quantitive easing.
Age Concern Scotland said: “For older people who are living on a low, fixed income, life can be tough, with basic living costs such as food and energy still high and April’s pension increase barely keeping up with inflation. Fuel poverty remains Scotland’s national disgrace, with almost two thirds of single pensioner households ‘fuel poor.’ " 

 Ros Altmann, director-general of over-fifties experts SAGA, says: “It almost seems as though policy is designed to take money from older people and give money to younger people. The government needs to acknowledge the difficulties that exist today and to try to ensure that today’s older people have a better quality of life.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Old, Sick and Broke

A person born today will be forced to work until they are 77 years old before they become eligible for a state pension, according to a new report. The report, by the world’s largest accountancy firm PwC, also states that people in their late 30s today can expect to work until they are 70 before they can claim their state pension. The prospect of 70 and 80-year-olds in the workforce will soon become a reality, according to Professor Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School.

Alison Fleming, head of pensions at PwC in Scotland, said: “The era of retiring in your 60s is facing extinction with many people born today facing a future of work from 17 through to 77."

Age Scotland said that poorer people live shorter lives and so will have to sacrifice a larger portion of their retirement under the new plans.

Lindsay Scott, a spokesman for Age Scotland, said “Do not rely on the government to make provisions for your old age as you will be exceedingly disappointed...We face physical and mental decline, a loss of cognitive ability and if you are getting into a situation where you need treatment for your physical ailments and for your mental health, and you have no money, then you are in dire straits, because not only are pensions taking a beating, look what is happening to the NHS. I can think of nothing worse for your old age as to be old, sick and broke.”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Drugging our old folk

Elderly patients in care homes across Scotland are being prescribed powerful drugs for long periods of time without proper checks on whether the medication is needed. In some cases, frail patients are being kept on multiple and potentially harmful doses for up to two decades without doctors or staff questioning whether they are necessary. Patients are often kept on a mix of drugs for health problems that may have resolved over time.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland (RPSS) in a report calls for more powers for pharmacists to review patients’ medical records. Pharmacists say they are becoming “increasingly concerned” about patients’ safety.

 Drugs regularly handed out to elderly patients include anti-psychotic medicines for dementia. These are classed as high-risk because of their links to heart problems and strokes, yet some patients remain on these far longer than is required. Other drugs could be causing drowsiness and dizziness, leading to falls and loss of appetite.

 Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “The dangers of inappropriate or long-term prescribing without regular review are clear: an increase in falls due to dizziness and unsteadiness, an almost doubling of mortality rates and double the risk of stroke in people with dementia.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

work til you drop

Someone born today may have to work until they are 80, a leading insurer has warned.

John Lawson, head of pension policy at Standard Life, said a child born this year may have to work through their seventies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The old neglected again

Older patients are “not safe” on hospital wards in Scotland because of a lack of qualified nurses to care for them according to Royal College of Nursing (RCN) findings. The report suggests there is just one nurse caring for nearly ten patients on old people’s wards. A survey of almost 1,700 nurses found that 78 per cent said comforting and talking to patients was not done or done inadequately on their last shift because of low staff numbers. Some 59 per cent said promoting mobility and self-care was left undone or unfinished, with 34 per cent saying they could not provide patients with food and drink, and 33 per cent claiming they were unable to fully help patients to the toilet or manage incontinence.

The RCN warned there was a danger that “care becomes compromised” and said that many nurses say “they are too busy to provide the standard of care they would like”. The report said: “Older people in Scotland are being let down by a lack of professionally qualified nurses in hospitals, despite nationally agreed planning for the nursing workforce. Despite older people often having the most complex needs, the evidence suggests that they regularly suffer from a severe shortage of nurses and healthcare support workers (HCSWs), coupled with an inappropriate skill mix of HCSWs to nurses."
The RCN called for a “patient guarantee” to set out the number of nurses needed on older people’s wards.

It emerged the number of nurses in Scotland’s hospitals plummeted by thousands in just over two years, with further nursing posts lost during the last few months of 2011. The RCN said the number of nursing and midwifery staff employed in Scotland had fallen by 2,190 between September 2009 and the end of 2011.

According to the RCN Scotland director, Theresa Fyffe, the number of nurses employed was at a six-year low. She said: “As health boards come under increasing financial pressure to deliver the same services to more and more people, they are saving money when nurses leave by not replacing them or by replacing them with nurses and healthcare support workers at lower-paid bands."

The charity Age Scotland demanded dramatic improvements to care services in the community, to keep older people “safe and out of hospital”.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your golden years - thats a laugh!

One in eight Scots will retire this year saddled with debts, research has claimed. The study found that 18% of those due to retire this year in the UK will be in debt. On average, those planning to retire this year with debts will face repayments of £260, around a fifth (19 per cent) of their expected £1290 a month income.

The average amount owed by those wrapping up their working life is around £38,200, with mortgages and credit cards making up the bulk of the debt. The figure is £5000 higher than the year before. The study found half of those with debts still owed money on their home loan and more than half (51%) were struggling with their credit card bills.

Citizens Advice Scotland said older Scots were saddled with "staggering amounts of debt".

Its own research, published last year, found that the average unsecured debt, excluding mortgages, was £17,767. Susan McPhee of CAS said: "That's a staggering amount of debt to service, and still keep warm and put food on the table."

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Is it accidental?

Adults and children from the most deprived areas of Scotland are twice as likely to die from an accidental injury than those from the most affluent postcodes, new figures show.

Some 1,364 deaths were recorded in 2010 in an Office of National Statistics as due to “unintentional injuries” , “Unintentional injury” is the NHS classification used where the victim has not deliberately inflicted injury on him or herself, but is admitted to hospital or dies as a result, such as road accidents, poisoning, and violent crimes like stabbings and shootings. However, the vast majority were from falls. Of these deaths, the bottom fifth of the population in terms of deprivation was listed as having a Standard Mortality Ratio for children of 119.3, compared with just 54.7 in the top fifth. Figures for adults were similar with an SMR of 125.2 for the bottom 20 per cent and 65.1 for the top 20 per cent.

It is thought that sub-standard housing, poor health and more crime in deprived areas (as well as greater "middle class" awareness about child safety) were relevant. The highest recorded number of accidents was in the west of Scotland – Glasgow City local authority is home to 31 per cent of the most deprived areas in Scotland.

Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager at the Royal Scoiety for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Scotland, said:“Those who are more income-deprived suffer poorer health and we know this is a major factor in falls which is one of the biggest causes of death and injury – especially in older people.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doom and gloom

Despite record low interest rates, falling by more than one-fifth since in 2008 the cost of owning and running a home in the UK has risen over the last year.

Bank of Scotland research found that soaring gas, electricity and main-tenance costs were the main causes of the rise. It showed that the average annual cost associated with owning and running a home rose by 1.4%, or £116, from £8525 in March 2010 to £8641 in March 2011. Utility costs were up by £102 on average and maintenance costs by £33.

Bank of Scotland housing economist Suren Thiru said: “Household finances remain under pressure with the significant drop in mortgage payments since 2008 mostly offset by increases in other household bills. Rising utility bills have been a clear driver behind this, along with increases in maintenance costs. The current strain on household finances is particularly concerning at a time when earnings growth remains weak.”

Another study revealed over-50s are suffering a drop in their quality of life as their incomes are squeezed by low interest rates and high inflation. Research by Saga found that around 56% of older people cite the rising cost of living as their biggest concern, more than double the 27% who are most worried about their health.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

old and young suffer

Save the Children said its research revealed there are 90,000 children in Scotland - or one in 10 - living in what they term the most "severe poverty" and the charity said they feared that number would rise "dramatically" due to Scots having the lowest chance of finding work in the UK.

In January this year, Glasgow had Scotland's highest proportion of youngsters in severe poverty at 18%, followed by North Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire and Clackmannanshire at 14%, and Dundee at 12%.

The charity said Glasgow had almost 18 people chasing every job vacancy, and that in West Dunbartonshire there are more than 36 people vying for every job.

Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children's head of Scotland, said: "Urgent action is required in Scotland's most deprived areas or we will end up with a lost generation. Some of these children will grow up living in households with no working adults - they have never seen a parent or grandparent work and this becomes the norm. People don't see a route out of poverty or this cycle of worklessness "

Meanwhile, Pensioners should lose a series of benefits, including free TV licences, free bus travel and the winter fuel allowance, to ease the financial squeeze on younger people, according to the think-tank., the Institute of Economic Affairs.

David Manion, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “Suggesting that all older people enjoy a ‘privileged’ economic position shows total ignorance of the reality of life for the majority of over-65s. In fact the UK has one of the lowest state pensions in Europe, with 1.8 million pensioners living in poverty and many more surviving just above the breadline.”

Yet Elinor McKenzie, chair of the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, said: “Every year around 3000 older people in Scotland die over the winter months from cold-related illnesses."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dying Old

In The Herald Socialist Courier reads that 50% of the time that people spend in hospital over a lifetime occurs in the 12 months before they die. In a new book, Professor Phil Hanlon, a former adviser to the Scottish Executive, argues the elderly should be prescribed far fewer drugs and given fewer tests and procedures as they reach serious physical decline.

He said: “It is not that I would discard such people. I would simply give them a more human and humane approach, which would use less intensive NHS facilities. The big debating point is: would people die earlier? And the answer I would give to that is we do not know. You might actually live longer if you do not have all the stress associated with going to the hospital for treatment and healthcare-associated infections. We all get to that stage in life where your systems begin to shut down, albeit slowly, and medicine cannot reverse that. If you treat the person as if you are going to reverse that, you actually do them harm and that is what we do at the moment.”

Hanlon, who trained as a doctor, said: “The system is designed to deal rapidly with you, shunt you through and get you off the waiting list. All of that is not human and humane.”

Some estimates, he said, suggest one in five hospital admissions is at least in part caused by previous treatment. He envisages a more open conversation between health professionals, patients and their families about whether fewer tests and treatments would be desirable in what is likely to be their last 12 months of life. Decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis, however, he stressed.

Lindsay Scott, communications manager for charity Age Scotland, said: “As an organisation, we would look at this proposal from a discrimination point of view. It was the idea in the first place with the NHS that from cradle to grave everyone is treated equally.” However, he said some older people would support Mr Hanlon’s ideas. A survey of 300 pensioners in Scotland found 65% supported assisted suicide for people with a terminal illness and 54% would consider it as a means of ending their own lives.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

old and starving

Almost twice as many pensioners in the Lothians are admitted to hospital with malnutrition than anywhere else in Scotland, figures have shown. Latest figures show six malnourished people over the age of 65 are now being treated every week, a rise of around a dozen on last year. A mixture of care cutbacks and the increasing number of elderly residents in the area have been suggested for the cases.

Experts said the majority of victims would be elderly people who lived alone and were "under the radar" as far as local authority support services were concerned.

Phyllis Herriot, acting secretary of the Scottish Pensioners' Forum, said: "This is a very sad figure, and quite awful for those involved. It's horrible to think that this can happen in this day and age. There have been a lot of cutbacks, not just in Edinburgh but across the board. Sheltered Housing complexes are losing their wardens, home-help visits that used to be an hour are now cut to half an hour, and those that were half an hour are now 15 minutes. All these things can contribute to someone not getting what they need, and perhaps because of all this some people aren't getting picked up by the services who would have been before"

The next closest health board for malnutrition numbers was Glasgow, where there were 166 cases. In neighbouring Fife there were 67 cases and 38 incidents in the Borders

Saturday, July 03, 2010

old age , same old story

The average Scottish male will be able to claim just five years of the state pension before he dies, under the new government plans to raise the retirement age.

ALMOST seven in ten British adults believe they will have to work beyond their pension age to give themselves a comfortable retirement, a new study has revealed.
In 2005 just 52 per cent of workers said they would have to work longer and 82 per cent planned to retire ahead of the state pension age. In 2005 the average male worker planned to retire at 60 years, with women targeting 59. But while a third of people would like to retire between the ages of 61 and 65, according to the latest report, 29 per cent now believe they will not be able to give up work until they are at least 66.

After a lifetime of toil many workers look forward to the comfort and leisure of old age. Alas, for many it is just another of capitalism’s illusions. Research published by Aviva yesterday showed that many people over 55 are likely to struggle to fund the lifestyle they want in retirement. In socialism every member of society, including the old, would have free access, as a matter of right, to what they needed to live and enjoy life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Country - Two Nations

In a study Scotland’s wealthiest suburb has a life expectancy of 87.7 years, while a boy born in the poorest area of Glasgow can expect to die at 54.
A child born in Calton, in the East End of Glasgow, is three times as likely to suffer heart disease, four times as likely to be hospitalised and ten times as likely to grow up in a workless household than a child in the city's more prosperous western suburbs.
A boy born in Bearsden, Milngavie, Lenzie, Clarkston or Kilmacolm can expect to live to over 80, according to data for 1998-2002. But a journey to the eastern side of Glasgow finds life expectancy plunging by two decades. Male life expectancy in Dalmarnock, Calton, Kinning Park and Townhead is below 60: Britain, as a country, passed this mark during the Second World War.

The NHS data can separate the counntry into two : "Prime Scotland", which comprises the best 100 neighbourhoods, and "Third Scotland", where life expectancy is closer to the third world.
If Prime Scotland were a country, it world have the longest life expectancy in the world. The top international spot is occupied by Iceland (79.0 years). Third Scotland, by contrast, has an average male life expectancy of only 64.4 years - meaning an eighth of the men in the country can expect to die before the official pension age. This life expectancy is lower than in Bosnia, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Iran or North Korea.

ONE in four of Scotland’s pensioners is now living in abject poverty and the position is expected to get much worse
Elinor McKenzie, chairwoman of the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum said “Why should pensioners on less than £100 a week be asked to pay for the economic mess we are in? They see some people, the very rich, becoming even richer – how are we all in this together?she asked.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

old and in the way

A quarter of UK pensioners feel their lives are getting worse.

Michelle Mitchell from Age Concern and Help the Aged said: "Loneliness, depression, poverty and neglect blight the lives of millions of older people and for many, evidence shows the situation is getting worse, not better...."

Yet all the charities can do is make plaintive pleas to government for reforms . To be frank, campaigning charities like Age Concern and Help the Aged have got no chance at all of getting governments to change their practice of putting profits before people. And it is not because they believe merely in lobbying that dooms them to failure. As long as the capitalist system continues to exist, its economic laws will operate to put profits before people, and governments will have no choice but to dance to this tune.