Today I came across a piece on BBC News, "Lonely elderly flood Silver Line helpline with calls" where this 24 hour helpline has recieved over 300,000 calls within the first year of its operation, mostly from the elderly who feel lonely or isolated.
A question not raised or discussed in the article is why there are so many elderly that are lonely or isolated. This isnt just about those in care homes, but also those that live in their own homes, all alone.
Surprisingly, most of these will have family, children and even grandchildren. But it is considered selfish for these elderly to "demand" attention and take their families away from their own lifestyles and careers.
I can remember watching a piece on TV where a woman matter of factly was stating that she was lonely and isolated, but she couldnt expect her son to help as he had a career (and family) to see to. She would feel quilty over expecting care from those she feeely gave it to (even if it might have been at the hands of babysitters and carers).
I consider it backward thinking to feel guilty for expecting the children to help maintain the mental and social wellbeing of their parents - this should be he absolute minimum.
I am not criticising care homes here, because they may be necessary, but even outside care homes, elderly living in their own homes may be living alone with their offspring living hundreds of miles away worried about their own careers and offspring, but not about their isolated parents.
Recently someone from the government even promoted the asian/indian family model where families care for their elderly as a more cost effective way to deal with those have become old and frail, but once again, the only mention was on this aspect of family life.
There is a question why things are the way they are and what effects them.
In my opinion, a big part of this is the huge pressure for not only independent living for everyone, but also breaking the family bond by expecting both parents to work while babysitters and other carers care for any children.
While this is not always the case and this is not the only reason for the social isolarion of the elderly, it is something that needs attention - the full impact of breaking the family unit down for economically productive reasons only without considering other costs.
The old and the frail should not be abandoned, isolated or lonely. Any society which causes this needs to have a deep look at its moral fibre and question how it works. This is something that needs to be fixed from top to bottom.
Another question is for these elderly themselves: Since they were part of the process of creating this society where the elderly can easily become isolated, do they regret how it got there and was there anything they would do differently if they had the choice?