Later life in Scotland: Taking the long view’

On the 20th of March Age Scotland members, guest speakers and invited guests will come together at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow for our fourth National Conference. Elizabeth Bryan, Age Scotland’s Community Development Coordinator, shares the thinking behind this year’s theme ‘Later life in Scotland: Taking the long view’.


Age Scotland is proud to work with and for older people, including supporting our member groups as they work to make a difference in their communities across Scotland. For many years older people have come together to support their local community, used their collective voice to campaign for change, and worked to improve later life for future generations.

Our predecessor charity, the Scottish Old People’s Welfare Committee, was established in 1943, later becoming Age Concern Scotland and more recently renamed Age Scotland following the merger with Help the Aged. 2018 will be Age Scotland’s 75th birthday.

Big anniversaries offer us a chance to reflect, so at our national conference with the help of our guest speakers and workshop presenters we will explore the changes that have taken place and the progress that has been made in Scotland in relation to later life over the past 75 years. We will also honour the commitment and achievements of older people’s groups, and discuss what would make life better for older people today and in the future.

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There will be a variety of information stalls, time for our member groups to network and share their learnings with each other and a number of interactive workshops.

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The conference will culminate in the presentation of the 2018 Age Scotland Awards to recognise and celebrate the exceptional commitment and contribution individuals and organisations make to ensuring Scotland is a good place to grow old in. We’re delighted to be joined by Jackie Bird to present the Age Scotland Awards.

We look forward to welcoming Age Scotland member groups and guests from across Scotland for a day of discussion, networking and celebration. It’s set to be a fantastic day and is already over-subscribed! You can follow discussions on the day on our social media channels.


To find out more about becoming an Age Scotland member, please contact members@agescotland.org.uk

Ending Isolation in Scotland – Glasgow Loneliness Summit

It has a reputation as one of the UK’s friendliest and most welcoming cities. So you might be surprised to learn that two thirds of Glaswegians have experienced loneliness.

Not only are they reluctant to talk about it, but it’s a growing problem. Nine out of 10 residents think they’re more likely than ever to be lonely as they get older.

These figures were revealed by the Campaign to End Loneliness ahead of today’s Loneliness Summit, held at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall with the city council. Following the Scottish Government’s new strategy on tackling loneliness and isolation, it’s a chance to address this modern epidemic.

After an opening by Poet Laureate Jackie Kay, speakers will include Age Scotland’s Senior Policy Officer Derek Young and Tressa Burke of the Glasgow Disability Alliance.

Of course, loneliness can affect us at any age and no matter where we live. But we’re more likely to be affected as we get older due to retirement, bereavement, loss of mobility or long-term illness.

Around one in 10 older people in Scotland feel lonely most or all of the time – a staggering 100,000 people throughout the country. One in six haven’t spoken to a friend or neighbour in a week, while forty per cent say the TV is their main form of company.

This is having a devastating impact on mental and physical health, increasing risk of death by 10 per cent and exacerbating heart disease, blood clots and cancer. Our recent research with the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of older people have experienced depression as a result of loneliness.

So what can we do about this? There is still a reluctance, especially among an older generation to seek help. They often fear being a burden on family and friends, with almost a third saying they just need to cope by themselves.

The Scottish Government’s strategy – the first of its kind worldwide – is an important first step. It acknowledges that a lot of the expertise and potential for tackling isolation already exists in our communities and organisations such as Age Scotland, with its 1000 member groups around the country.

But there are more concrete steps to take, such as investing in accessible and affordable transport, maintaining community hubs, and identifying those most at risk. And we can all play our part by reaching out to friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbours, creating a compassionate and inclusive society where nobody is forgotten about.

Starting those conversations is key, and we hope events like today’s summit will highlight the problem and encourage people to talk about it.

Watch our twitter feed for more updates from the event throughout the day.

Let’s Get Digital

Getting the internet to work for you can help make life easier, helping you stay in touch, explore your passions and even simplify and speed up daily tasks. Age Scotland helped EE organise two EE Techy Tea Party events in Glasgow and Edinburgh this year where more than 30 older people came to find out more about technology.

Glasgow group

Glasgow group

The aim of an EE Techy Tea Party is for volunteers from the digital communications company EE to spend around two hours with local people from their community. Guests bring the kit they want to learn more about and EE’s digital champions bring their know how to help them gain the skills to make the most of the technology at their fingertips.

Last year the company held 70 EE Techy Tea Parties across the UK, with 565 digital champions helping to improve the digital skills of nearly 1000 people. An impressive 89 per cent of guests told them they were more likely to use technology in the future.

Edinburgh Group

Edinburgh Group

Age Scotland guests at the events in Glasgow and Edinburgh were brimming with questions about texting, e mail set up, shopping on line, downloading apps and social media.

Catriona Blythe who attended the Glasgow Techy Tea Party said: “I’m looking forward to being be able to use Facebook through my phone more to speak to my son who is abroad.

Here, Madeleine Knowles from EE shares some tips:

  • Stay in touch

Everyone leads such busy lives, so it can be difficult to keep in touch with those you care about.

Email (electronic mail)

Set up your own email account for free at Google mail www.gmail.com or try Hotmail at www.hotmail.co.uk. You can even set up email accounts on your smartphone, so you can retrieve e mails on the move.

  • Social networking

Set up a Facebook account so you can see what your friends and family are up to. www.facebook.com or install the Twitter app on your smartphone to ‘check in’ when you are out and about.

  • Save money and time

There are lots of shopping sites on line, google the ones you like ad grab yourself a bargain. Visit www.amazon.co.uk they have everything from good books, to bedding, or make your first sale on www.ebay.co.uk .

Last minute holiday and entertainment deals can been seen at www.lastminute.com or try www.groupon.com . The Vouchercloud app sees where you are and searches out great local high street deals for you.

Compare prices on a whole range of things including insurance, travel, mobile phones and broadband at www.moneysupermarket.com.

Sort out your travel and check train times at www.nationalrail.co.uk or get discounts when you book online at www.thetrainline.com

Get out and about fuss free with the Google maps app on your smartphone or try the next bus app to find out bus times in your area.

  • Be Entertained

Do you have a favourite song that brings back memories or a TV show that you hate to miss? Watch great BBC shows on www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Go to www.google.com and type in what you are interested in eg football or try www.bbc.co.uk/sport for the latest news on your team. Find chat rooms full of likeminded people why not try www.sagazone.co.uk/forums

  • Stay Informed

The internet allows you to access information and news as it breaks. Check out today’s news on www.bbc.co.uk/news .

Read books on line www.isubscribe.co.uk to see magazines that you can download. Or download an audiobook www.audible.co.uk or www.waterstones.com to feast your eyes on the latest novel or old classics.

Staying safe

Technology has revolutionised our lives and there are things you can do to stay safe:

Safety first

  1. Trust your common sense: if you are not sure, don’t risk it
  2. Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date (usually annually)to stop rogue messaging and  links affecting your computer
  3. Shopping online? Check for the padlock sign. (This means the site is secure.)
  4. Never respond to emails from people you don’t know. You won’t have won money from a competition you didn’t enter and a foreign prince won’t really be desperate to share his millions with you
  5. Don’t write passwords down and don’t share them with others
  6. Use different passwords for different online accounts
  7. Your bank will never ask you for password information: an email that seems to be from your bank, yet asks to confirm your personal details will be fake
  8. Always log out if you are using a public computer or others will see your information
  9. If there might be children using your computer you can set up parental controls if children to stop them accessing content such as pornography, gambling and dating, that’s meant for adults
  10. If you’re unsure – ask a friend about reputable websites

Sharing information about yourself

We all have a digital shadow, so remember everything you do can leave a trace, use trusted websites, act responsibly and treat others with respect

For more information take a look at www.explore.ee.co.uk/digital-living or visit www.getsafeonline.org.uk

EE will be hosting ‘EE National Techy Tea Party Day’ on Tuesday 9 September in all of its stores to further tackle digital exclusion across the UK. Visit www.ee.co.uk/ttpday to find out more.

Find out more about getting online on our website.

Age Scotland’s sister charity, Age UK, produces an Internet Security guide which can be accessed online from the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk or call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90 to request a copy.

 

 

 

Pensions and Independence

We recently held an debate on the Scottish Referendum in Glasgow and one on the main concerns arising was that of pensions after independence…

Pensions are an extremely important issue for older people, but they are also a highly complex area. When added to the inherent uncertainty and partiality which pervades the independence debate, it’s not surprising that older people may struggle to get the grasp they want on what independence might mean for them.

The Scottish Government’s own white paper on pensions and independence published last September, and further details appeared in the referendum white paper Scotland’s Future published in November. Age Scotland wrote about this last year.

The Scotland Office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published the latest in the UK Government’s Scotland Analysis series on Thursday 24 April. It relies on an analysis of current pensions and benefits spending both in Scotland and across the UK, and long-term projections of how these might change in future based on demographic trends. It also factors in the proposed changes which the Scottish Government wants to make to pensions and working-age benefits if there is a Yes vote in September.

The UK Government’s analysis is that Scotland already gains £60 more per head of population per year in welfare spending than the rest of the UK, and that an independent Scotland would face higher pension costs per head of population – up to £450 extra per person per year. Despite Scotland’s lower life expectancy – which makes pensions more affordable if people die earlier – they claim that Scotland’s overall spend on welfare would cost it an extra £1.4 billion per year by 2035 – 8% more than is currently spent here.

There would also be costs in setting up and maintaining the infrastructure needed to run an independent Scotland’s own social security system. An independent Scotland might not automatically gain all of the UK Government’s assets in Scotland – such as the network of JobCentres – or take on public pensions staff working in Glasgow and Dundee. And the UK-wide IT system is based on consistent benefit structures, payment levels and eligibility tests. If an independent Scotland wanted to change these – and the Scottish Government certainly does – then there could be substantial set-up costs which Scotland would have to find.

The UK Government claims the Scottish Government should tell people how these costs would be afforded. The Scottish Government rejects the analysis as either incorrect or exaggerated.

Older people simply want to know what independence might mean for their standard of living, so it can inform their vote. So the continual arguing over the facts can be both frustrating and confusing. Age Scotland will continue to try to help to inform the debate, and we will be publishing responses from the two campaigns to questions we posed them in the next issue of Advantage magazine and on our website, www.agescotland.org.uk. But with certainty an unlikely prospect, older voters might be left wondering which version of events seems more likely and whom they are more likely to trust.

 

We don’t have to look for babysitters

You may have seen our ‘Love Later Life’ adverts on the TV or at the cinema…

The advert features a voiceover from actor Jonathan Pryce who is reading a poem about ageing which has been written specifically for the occasion by Roger McGough – if you want to check it out click here .

We went out to see how people in Scotland are loving later life, here, Jean and Betty from Knightswood Community Centre tell us how they get out and about with their ‘Old Time Dancing’ group.