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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Article expands on the challenges of growing old today

Journalist and priest, Revd Peter Crumpler has now expanded an original article he wrote for the St Albans Times, on growing older, for the website Christian Today.

Highlighting the work of Anna Chaplaincy, and quoting the city's Anna Chaplain Maggie Dodd, the longer article explores why technology is proving so divisive. The local paper is now also following up its original story, as it's provoked so much debate locally.

Peter Crumpler writes: 'Maggie has told me how life is becoming harder for older people in the area, and we've swapped notes on what we have both observed. Many of the things she talks about would apply across the UK, and probably overseas too.'

'She explained: "Some of the basic services older people need are becoming more difficult to access. I hear about doctor's surgeries asking for patients to print out their own forms or send photos to or from smartphones.

Credit: Centre for Ageing Better

"Banks are phasing out high street branches, pushing everyone towards online banking - many older people feel very uneasy about going online, worried of being scammed out of their savings."'

The article goes on to say that it's not just older men and women who are disadvantaged by the move away from people and cash to technology and smartphones. People with poor eyesight or reduced cognitive abilities can also struggle.

'Plans to remove the ticket offices at UK train stations will make matters worse for many would-be rail travellers. Increasing numbers of restaurants are encouraging people to order and pay for their meals on smartphones. BBC local radio – listened to by many older people – is facing cutbacks.

Maggie told me, "This gradual marginalisation of people can leave them feeling lonely and isolated. Loneliness can have a huge detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. Prolonged social isolation and loneliness are the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day."

Credit: Centre for Ageing Better

I agree with Maggie, and I'm grateful to her for raising this issue.

Older people are being increasingly marginalised when, alongside people of all ages, they should be able to play a full part in our community.'

'The Church of England, along with many churches, wants to encourage more younger people to be part of church communities. The CofE has placed 'growing younger and more diverse' as one of its three key priorities for the 2020s. It's an objective I support and welcome.
Yet it's important too that all churches are aware of the needs and challenges for the older women and men in our churches, and in the wider community. Groups like the 'Anna Chaplains' have a key role to play in highlighting these concerns.
But, in addition, Christians are called to follow Christ's example and speak out for those on the margins of our society. In today's UK, US or elsewhere, that could be anyone reaching later life...'

Well said, Peter, (writes Debbie Thrower). It is an article that repays reading in full.




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