Gap between young and old

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THE OTHER day I came across an elderly couple getting into their motor car which sported a bumper sticker with the slogan, “We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance!”.

To me this emphasised the increasing gap between those who have retired and leading the good life and the young who are finding it increasingly difficult to find gainful employment – even those with a university degree.

Following the budget, there has been a great deal of whingeing by pensioners regarding what they perceive as a massive drop in income. And as one in my seventies, I’m not too happy about this particular piece of legislation. Added to which the pitifully low investment returns on the hard earned savings of my wife and myself do not endear me to this unpopular government move.

That said, any government of whatever colour has to face up to the unpalatable fact that a shrinking workforce will have to support a growing elderly population. And inevitably that will increasingly be a cause of generational resentment. Already, overworked nurses often ignore the needs of elderly patients – callously dismissing them as ‘bed-blockers’. And how many ambitious young doctors choose geriatrics as their speciality?

It is almost impossible for youth to visualise retirement and old age. All life lies ahead – for many university – plus a so-called ‘gap-year’ travelling abroad. But finding a worthwhile job and getting on the housing ladder – while repaying a hefty loan? That’s another matter altogether.

My generation lived through the War – followed by years of austerity then undertook two years’ National Service when university education was limited to the few.

We also lived through the Cold War and the very real threat of atomic warfare. But on the positive side, for many, jobs were relatively plentiful and housing freely available at affordable prices – courtesy of a mutual building society.

The moral is clear. For future harmony, the young and the elderly will have to respect one another and work together.

It’s something called Society – an all important social concept dismissed out of hand by a previous Prime Minister now sadly in her dotage!

ROBERT B WORLEY

Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham