Group might be getting on a bit, but it’s still young at heart

The Falkirk Age Concern group celebrated its 70th aniversary last week. Picture: Michael Gillen
The Falkirk Age Concern group celebrated its 70th aniversary last week. Picture: Michael Gillen

Modern society faces major challenges – some even say crises – when it comes to our older generation.

With people living much longer now it creates demands on services which means communities must adapt to help make life better, despite the additional challenges austerity poses.

Agnes Philip, left, and chairman Margaret Greenhill cut the cake at the celebration

Agnes Philip, left, and chairman Margaret Greenhill cut the cake at the celebration

This means a positive approach is required to support the vision of a society where older people can fully participate and avoid health issues and isolation.

Our older generation are the ones who have fought wars for us – many of those who took part in the Second World War are the ones needing help now – and have had a hand in shaping the freedoms and values we live by today.

One group which specialises in representing the interests of the country’s older people is Age Scotland, which the Falkirk Age Concern branch is affiliated with.

The local group itself is ‘getting on a bit’, celebrating its 70th birthday last week and, in keeping with its aims and vision, it didn’t pass unnoticed with around 100 members holding a party in the Park Hotel to mark the momentous milestone.

Chairman Margaret Greenhill, who has been involved with the group for more than 40 years, said the group is a “lifeline” for many of Falkirk’s older residents.

Margaret (82), who was secretary of the group for many years, said: “I was asked to type up some letters by a lawyer for the group 43 years ago and I’ve been there ever since.

“It was called the Falkirk Old People’s Welfare group back then and became Age Concern about 20 years ago and we are now affiliated with Age Scotland.

“We have a keep fit group on a Friday, sequence dancing on Tuesdays and a choir which are all good for the physical and mental side of things.

“Our carol concert in December is a sell-out. When you are doing something like singing, dancing or exercising it really can make a difference and help you forget your own problems and for some people, without the group, they wouldn’t have anything else so it is literally a lifeline for some.

“Age Scotland has a fantastic amount of information and advice available on anything from health, fuel poverty and Power of Attorney for older people.”

Age Scotland charity director Keith Robson said: “We’re delighted to join Age Scotland Falkirk in celebrating this landmark and wish them all the best for the future.

“This is a great chance to recognise the amazing work of our Falkirk members and volunteers who are making their community a better place for older people.”

A big problem facing older people is that they are often portrayed negatively with the misconception that old age implies “decline, dependency and marginalisation”, states the charity’s strategy.

Conversely, Age Scotland acknowledges “the wealth of wisdom, experience and support which older people contribute in our society” and has highlighted three growing challenges in the latest strategy – the negative stereotypes of older people; health issues; and loneliness and isolation.

To tackle these issues the charity helps older people eat healthier, exercise and ensure older people receive the proper health and social care provisions.

Age Scotland believes that “no-one should have no-one” and also provides information, advice, friendship and contact to hundreds of people every week, as well as campaign for greater recognition of loneliness which many older people experience when family and friends pass away.

Mr Robson added: “We’re committed to helping every older person in Scotland love later life.

“There have been huge changes in the lives of older people in the last 70 years with more of us living longer, healthier lives.

“But there are still challenges to overcome, from tackling loneliness and isolation to campaigning on issues such as transport and fuel poverty.

“We work with groups around the country, helping members stay active, make connections and access information and advice when they need it.”