By Joe Riley
Now nearing my 80th year on this planet, I was a baby born in an air raid shelter during World War II. I consider myself a product of the relatively pleasant Elvis Presley and Beatle mania era. I have been cooped up for the past four months due to ageism on what is supposed to be a Paradise Island. At my age I am not allowed outside the door, I am considered infantile, or is it irresponsibility, or I do not have the faculties to know the difference between right and wrong, These days I cry easily and often feel sad to the point of being depressed. I try to lose myself doing paintings that are meaningless. You get to that stage where reflection in times of solitude is not a good thing, you ponder on issues that are often not there.
It would appear that the extended lockdown for older people is because we are more likely to become seriously ill and die if we contract the virus, compared to younger age groups. In a world of supposed freedom, the choice of living or dying is my choice, I thought so, but maybe I am confused and irresponsible, so others must make that choice for me.
The proposition by governments worldwide is that everyone beyond a certain age puts their life on hold and hunkers down for many months or longer is, by definition, ageist and deeply objectionable. A big question that arises though is whether it’s those advocating an elongated lock down for older people who are being ageist – or the virus itself.
I am distressed at the way I have been treated by a blanket policy on the aged, we older people are being discriminated against during this terrible health crisis when being treated fairly and individually may well be a matter of life and death. If I cannot go for a walk, swim, go shopping or play golf it is time to call it what it is “Discrimination against the aged” and Call it what it is “Selective Isolation of the Elderly”
And finally, there is the consequences on mental health. Keeping me apart from families, friends and the wider community for a prolonged period is a recipe for deep unhappiness, depression, and loneliness,
“This lockdown, I believe has changed my personality,” “I’m not the Joe that I was.”
May I suggest that I and other older people should be treated as we are, experienced, individual human beings, provide us with the best information available. We can then take the responsibility for making our own decisions about how to live our lives, in the fullest possible understanding of the likely impact on them, on our families and others around us – just like everyone else.