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Jane Bates: Frail and elderly or fit for work?

The baby boomer generation is expected to work until approaching age 70 but they are considered frail and elderly when something goes wrong. You can’t have it both ways, says Jane Bates.

The baby boomer generation are expected to work until approaching age 70 but are considered frail and elderly when something goes wrong. You can’t have it both ways, says Jane Bates


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‘They’ve referred me to the frailty team,’ said a friend. ‘You? Frail?!’ I said, incredulous. We chuckled in disbelief.

Then another friend was invited to the elderly care clinic. ‘You? Elderly?!’ I said, but didn’t laugh so much this time. These friends are my age, and are robust, busy people. They had broken bones recently, but that was all.

Maybe our skeletons are becoming fragile, but with many of us having to work until we are nearly three score years and ten, this is no way to treat us baby boomers.

Labelling

They can’t have it both ways. Fit enough to do a day’s hard graft yet designated frail and elderly when something goes wrong. And it’s not just my generation being awkward – I have a friend in her 90s who you wouldn’t dare call ‘geriatric’ if you wanted to live to tell the tale.

I’m no psychologist, but labelling people in this way goes against the grain when it comes to cultivating a positive attitude. It is sobering for those with a natural spring in their step, and the folk who need to foster their inner optimist just roll over, defeated.

We were the generation who elevated pop music to unprecedented heights, so let’s indulge ourselves. We could rename elderly care Stairway to Heaven, and the frailty clinic that superannuated chestnut Stayin’ Alive.

Growing old is not for the faint-hearted, so let’s hit the ground running. But not too hard. Remember those fragile bones.


Jane Bates in an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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