Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lonely Old People Need Not Be a Problem

What can be done about the one in five old people facing loneliness, asks the BBC.

Well, it's a tricky one, isn't it? The normal BBC response would be for the Government to hire a massive army of people who would go to old people's houses and ask them what it was like during the war. But i suspect that the national coffers won't support that.

Likewise my own idea of rolling back the entire discredited "Enlightenment" project, reversing the elevation of the autonomous individual over the family, and re-instilling the idea of "duty" is more a long-term scheme. Also it may involve the invention of time travel so we can take out several leading lights of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Here's a modest proposal however. For those older people who are relatively physically active, yet lonely - and there are many - perhaps they could go to church?

Many of them will remember the old churches of their youth, when the ministers were terrifying, god-like creatures who were beyond question, and people were required to pass highly rigorous exams in New Testament Greek - and pledge allegiance to all 39 Articles before being allowed to run the Bingo Committee.

Well things have changed. These days, older people are likely to find that the mystique of the vicar has gone forever. The minister could well be a jolly woman, or a disco diva, and likely to be grateful to see someone in church at all - rather than hedging themselves about with undeserved divinity. And we'll accept anyone regardless of what they believe.  And there's all sorts of stuff with no religion dragged in at all - coffee mornings and all-age services.

Obviously if this idea is to have wings, the church will have to rethink its strategy. All age services that mean what they say . And they will have to include songs like "The old Rugged Cross" as well as "Great, great, brill, brill."  But it can be done. One church I know runs an over-50 holiday club.  Obviously, like the over-50s insurance ads that run during UK Gold breaks, over 50 is a euphemism for "over 75". Or at least,  as I progress relentlessly towards that milestone myself, I hope so.

But increasingly older people are physically quite active, possessing large amounts of free time, and maybe only too keen to meet people.  I think maybe we've worshipped youth too much.


  1. Aren't old people, or at least old ladies, religious by default? Personally, I would have thought some were and some weren't, but I was present not so long ago when a well-meaning young person strongly recommended to an old lady that she arrange some visitors from her church. She said this twice, including AFTER the lady in question said in no uncertain terms that she had lost interest in religion and wasn't involved with a church.

    Or maybe the UK is more post-Christian or even post-religion than Canada is.

    1. UK is much more post-Christian than Canada.

      People aged about 65+ are probably the last people in this country who went to church because they thought they ought to. These days it's just people who want to.

  2. It's not so much that older people are more religious, just that they suddenly realise that it might be a good idea to start taking it seriously before it's too late.

  3. They should be schooled in a proper appreciation of the fruits of the enlightenment, you know, the internet and Xbox360, that's what lonely young people have to make do with after all!.... ;)

    1. You're right. Call of Duty. Is that what Percy Bysshe Shelley died for?


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