Do over 70s have a choice?


It’s interesting in life how you have an idea that you think will take you in one direction and then it leads you to a completely different place.

I posted an article in a recent edition of Rye News about a blog I had set up for grandmothers to share ideas for ways to communicate with grandchildren during the lock down (  After it had been live for a few weeks, I was surprised to be approached by the BBC Radio 4 who asked if I would take part in a feature on how people of 70+ were feeling about the prospect of lockdown being extended.

The media thankfully seems to be waking up to the fact that reaching the age of 70 doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be categorised, or indeed made to see yourself, as “old and vulnerable”.

For those of us who have reached that milestone, but feel physically fit, the casual comments from scientists about keeping all over 70s in lock down until a vaccine is found next year, are alarming and in my view discriminatory.

It’s important to protect people with underlying health issues, but is it necessary to lock away anyone who simply happens to reach a particular number when research has shown that chronological age is different from biological age?

I was called by the journalist for an initial discussion and then he recorded an interview on WhatsApp the next day. He wanted to understand how people were feeling about the prospect of a longer lockdown and the impact that not seeing family and friends might have.

Living the dream ?

This situation may in fact have divided the generations as those with families who are struggling to juggle work, home schooling and childcare, may feel that older people in lockdown with no pressures are living the dream!

In many ways those with a pension and in good health probably are compared to the struggles of many, but it is nevertheless an open ended lack of freedom.

David Blunkett has now got involved in taking up the cause which will hopefully give the 70+ group a voice, but I feel that the questions raised  are ones that all of us should be discussing together. Rye has many residents aged 70+ so Rye News is a good place to get that conversation started.

Let Rye News have your views
Questions to consider may be:

How long would you be prepared to stay in lockdown?

Do you think everyone over 70, regardless of health,  should be lumped together and made to stay at home for a very long period?

Should we have a choice based on facts, or is that being selfish?

Do you feel that the over 70s have a voice, and are being listened to by government?

Would you like to see more evidence against the risk of Covid, weighed up against the risk of other illnesses connected with age – for example cancer operations, and annual checks that have been postponed?

Would you be prepared to break the rules? If so under which conditions?

Image Credits: Rye News library .

Previous articleWhat’s in a name?
Next articleFace coverings ordered, but…


  1. Yes I am definitely prepared to break the rules. I have always felt a certain responsibility to do so.

    Over 70s are definitely not all the same. I go cycling every week with two friends older than me (I am 65). They both beat me up riding up Udimore Hill. The gentleman is 80 and his partner 75. I am fairly fit myself and during lockdown we have twice done a cycle ride round Peasmarsh including a climb up Hundred Houses Lane. Anyone who knows this area will know that is no short or gentle hill!

    All of the rules for groups based on age are grossly discriminatory.

  2. Excellent article, thank you.

    I’m rather bemused by the calls for over 70s to remain in quarantine – most of us are not criminals and ‘Lockdown’ is the wrong word. The idea seems to be predicated on the idea that over 70 are a homogeneous group capable of isolation – rather like members of a leper colony. Next we will be offered a bell! While some may not live with other age groups, I suspect that others like me do. Apart from that, I understand that the vulnerable include: Overweight, Diabetics, Heart patients, those on blood thinners and a number of other immune challenging conditions. In other words, probably 60% of the population.

    ‘Old’ people are an easy target. It’s silly because each person’s experience is different. I recall boys at school who were already octogenarians at age nine. Likewise my recently deceased brother really never grew up. I don’t deny that, as my late mother-in-law put it “When you pass 70 bits start falling off,” and certainly I’m not as supple as I used to be – something to do with arthritis – but I write, paint, give English lessons on Skype, cook and – oh well live a full life. I am never bored (a word I believe only applies to the idle). I intend to live and enjoy every day that I remain on planet earth. I am an NHS Volunteer Responder and am fully prepared to play whatever part I can in defeating CV19. We are all in this together and I hope that amongst the good that emerges will be a focus on help according to need, not arbitrary and thoughtless discrimination.

  3. Well, there you have it, “ a certain responsibility to break the rules”
    I seem to have missed the point on the rules, I was under the impression they were there to keep us alive and give us a chance of a future.
    It would need some sort of medical document or such to say whether you’re fit enough to be made an exception but that wouldn’t be too much trouble for our NHS at present would it? After all they’re sat around doing nothing all day aren’t they.
    Having got this far without catching covid19 I’m more than happy to see it out for a little bit longer.

  4. I understand that the primary purpose of the “lockdown” was to avoid the NHS, which has finite and limited resource, being completely overwhelmed with admissions. Statistics definitely indicate that serious illness and mortality are most strongly linked to just two factors: age, and pre-existing health conditions. Younger people in good health are unlikely to end up in hospital, whereas older people with other health issues are many times more likely to. The measures taken to protect those at high risk so they don’t present at hospitals does therefore seem reasonable to me. Whilst I agree that a filter of age is simple, some would say blunt, I’m not sure what other filter could have been practically used. In any event, is there not scope to intelligently interpret the rules with a view to maintaining a reasonable lifestyle – exercising and maintaining “over the garden fence” contact with neighbours, for example – whilst also minimising the chance of contracting Covid19?

  5. I can do no more than suggest people read the detailed report by a doctor in this week’s Private Eye, if you can get a copy.
    It’s obviously complicated, but a few things struck me: the Government is more anxious to get the PR right, than to supply correct PPE.
    Another reason the U.K. and USA have such high figures, is because our diets are among the worst in the world.
    Lastly, we are not ‘all in this together’. A white couple in a large house with garden have a much higher chance of survival than a BAME person in a multi generational cramped flat, without outside space.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here