Stephen Burke’s Blog
Stephen is the chief executive of older people’s charity Counsel
and Care. He was previously director of the Daycare Trust.
20 September 2005
Germaine Greer caused a stir when she delivered Counsel and
Care’s annual Graham Lecture recently on ‘the image of
older people’. The Times and Daily Mail picked up her
criticism of ‘powerful’ actresses who make fun (and
money) out of portraying older women – and illustrated their
articles with photos of Mrs Overall, Dinner Ladies and of course
Beattie. When the Guardian ran an abridged version of the lecture,
Maureen Lipman responded with a stinging attack – about Germaine
Greer, not about what she was saying!
As Germaine argues, ageism (or gerontophobia as she prefers to
call it) is all around us. But at least the debate is raging. We
now need to ensure that ageing is not a laughing matter but
seriously addressed. Why should older people’s access to
health and social care be determined by their age? It’s a
disgrace but still far too prevalent.
With more and more babyboomers hitting 60, a generational shift
in attitudes and power is promised. As the party conference season
gets into full swing, we’ll see whether the seaside debates
reflect our changing society.