Valuable not vulnerable – a new ageing narrative

A new campaign to change perceptions of older people has been launched by the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, with whom MICRA has a close working relationship.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a number of issues and concerns have been raised by the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub and partners around the depiction and stereotyping of older people. This includes depictions of older people as frail and that all older people are vulnerable when many are actually playing a very active role in the response to the outbreak, including on the frontline.

In the media, this has included an extreme example in the Daily Telegraph which said coronavirus could be a good thing as it could lead to a ‘cull’ of the elderly. Less extreme but negative depictions include the use of frail hands, and showing all older people as shielding and needing help.

The GM Ageing Hub launched this campaign on October 1 to link with International Day of Older Persons and the World Health Organization Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030 and it highlights just some of the crucial roles older people have played in Greater Manchester in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Key messages

  • Older people play a key role in society in Greater Manchester and including on the frontline in the response to coronavirus
  • Older people are not one homogenous group, and like everyone, have had different and varied experiences of coronavirus and lockdown.
  • Older people have a key role to play in our recovery from the coronavirus outbreak, including as workers, volunteers and unpaid carers, consumers, neighbours and citizens.
  • We need to ensure older people’s views are heard during the recovery from coronavirus.
  • We need to ensure that older people’s voices are shared and amplified to challenge stereotypes of weak and vulnerable
  • Older people are being negatively impacted by coronavirus. The results of the Ipsos Mori survey show:
    • More than a quarter of people aged 50 to 70 polled in Greater Manchester believe their financial circumstances will worsen over the next year.
    • Many older people reported that their physical and mental health has deteriorated with medical or dental appointments delayed or cancelled, and an increase in smoking and drinking.
    • The full release can be found here.
  • We want to facilitate an intergenerational sharing of views.
  • By showing the many varied roles older people took during the pandemic we can change perceptions.

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