Why single out over 70s?

Butterflies composition by 96 year old local artist Archie White in his second art academic year

Last week’s article from Dee Alsey seems to have spoken to a lot of people in the over 70s age group, with a few agreeing it’s a good thing to warn this group to stay indoors until a vaccine is found, while others feel unfairly singled out.

The data in general show that apart from children, maybe, the virus is not choosy. It can attack at any age. Unfortunately, yes, a big percentage of elderly deaths have been found in care homes, people well over 70, because often they are in the home with underlying health issues. Also their carers are being ignored in terms of getting proper protection and individuals were sent back from hospital in many cases with no testing until now.

In hospitals, yes, the infections and deaths are frequently from the older age group, but again, they very often suffer with underlying health issues. It would be interesting to know the percentage of the over 70s who went into intensive care units with the infection and died, but were fit and healthy beforehand and had no other illnesses.

What the debate here is about, gleaned from conversations and opinion letters in The Guardian, this and other news papers, is that the over 70s who are fit don’t want to be separated out within society.

Ageism is rife in general but there is no need for it within this pandemic as we are all in it together. It is understood that over 70s and even over 60s with underlying health problems, need to be shielded, and it is clear that the rules are being obeyed by most.

Take a stroll down the High Street

However,  there are fit 70+ year-olds working now – as artists, returned nurses and GPs, in hospitals, postmen/women, staff in food shops, and dustmen – all of whom are keeping communities going.

Agreed, it is important for all of us to follow government guidelines, and it has shown results by reducing infections a little – so we need to continue the lockdown and distancing.  But Dee asks: “Are you prepared to flout the rules?”.

Surely most individuals will use their own intelligence to work out the risks for themselves and others after listening to the ‘experts’. If shopping can be done (with mask, gloves, and distancing) safely, this would be a good thing, for 65 or 70+.

Beauty and the home of wild life

But, whatever the problems and some people, unfortunately, have more than others in this crisis, we are one society and want to help each other where possible, if we are healthy, independent of our age. And let’s appreciate the beautiful things one can see on the one permitted outing. Nature is thriving, the air is cleaner, and bird song can be heard, which is a joy.

Image Credits: Archie White , Heidi Foster .


  1. Surely the whole point of getting older people to stay at home isn’t their own safety but others’. Older people are more likely to have underlying health problems, are less able to fight infections, and tend to spend longer in hospital once they’re there. More people in hospital or at the doctors’ = more risk for the staff working there, longer hours, more risk to their families, etc. Recovery times for older people tend to be longer, involving more work for medical and ancillary professions. My own family history has also taught me the often ignored fact that dementia is often hastened or worsened by that stay in hospital, so that involves a whole other layer of social care, often supplied by younger family members.

    Unfortunately a far lower percentage of the over-70s fall into the “fit and healthy” group than in other age ranges, and it just wouldn’t be practicable to identify them and remove them from the shielded cohort. Besides, many older people who think they’re healthy aren’t–I’ve lost count of the number of healthy-looking friends and acquaintances in their late fifties or early sixties who’ve died or ended up in hospital suddenly because of health conditions they didn’t know they had. Our bodies just become less reliable as we age. Add the virus to that and you’ve got an enormous burden for the NHS and ancillary staff.

    So it’s not ageism, not “singling out” a sector of the population–it’s the most logical thing to do to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, which is the whole point of this lockdown. It’s also dependent on a whole lot of younger people rolling the COVID-19 dice to deliver food and other necessaries to the shielded people. I see no cause for complaint.

  2. Jane, of course we all have different perceptions of people and you may be right but I just would like to remind us all that individuals under 70 are just as likely to have underlying health issues and could infect others or be infected by under 70 age group. Each age group fit or not need to act responsible not just the 70 plus. Heidi


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