Climate Change & Care of the Elderly by Editor-in-Chief

I was recently asked at a big event what are the 2 most important themes facing people in the Nordic region. 

The answer is terribly simple – it is Climate Change and Care of the Aged and they are strongly connected.

As you get older, which we all do, you will find that there is less and less that you can do to make things better either for society or for yourself.. The political parties, the companies, the media get filled up with younger people – the ones who consume and have vastly different interests – they focus, like you did then, on their own immediate needs and wishes.

For the younger ones, the costs and effort for caring for the older folk, your parents, is somehow correlated to the other caring relationship between the grandparents and grandchildren. Both  “caring relationships” are dominated by limits imposed by time and frustration. Guilt comes into the picture because younger folk in their 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s have their job, the housing loan, the holidays, the children and the difficulty in finding time and interesting subjects to discuss together. The questions of money, relationships, health, work are perceived differently by children and parents and as private matters. How much can and should you ask without appearing to interfere? As we all know there is a lot of baggage between parents and children that is seldom resolved before death or dementia. The guilt builds up and creates a big, big wall.

That problem does not exist between grandparents and grandchildren. That is a new fresh relationship unspoilt by that almost unending baggage. And what a relationship that is, because it can create a lot a pleasure and fun, But it has another element missing from the parent child relationship. It starts well after birth, and finishes quickly when the grandchild reaches 10 or 12 and disappears into another life bubble or when Grandpa starts to loose the thread of his own existence…

At that same time, the parents also enter a new life bubble that is scary, horribly time consuming, perhaps expensive and legally tricky when dementia or serious illness starts to ravage that well known body and mind. That is were more guilt and emotional fear strikes hardest. 

This is also the point when society steps up with public or commercial care. The oldies get to move house to a single room with bread, porridge, coffee and buns, With soft music, eternal TV and diapers. With lonely days and nights, and shuffling of slippers on cheap flooring around the beds and tables, wheelchairs and walking sticks. Nurses and carers come and go without names and empathy. 

“It is expensive to care for the aged and we need to cut taxpayers’ costs” or “we need to ensure that shareholders get a reasonable dividend” are the mantras of politicians and CEÖ’s…

The media publishes these stories with glee because they satisfy the readers and the lobbyists – who wants to pay more taxes and who wants to receive less dividends? It is all so short-term. Nobody thinks of asking the oldies and even if they do many cannot even answer. Pictures and programs about old people’s homes do not sell more and they are not particularly pleasant to watch. Fewer viewers means less income and a smaller bonus…

And how is this related to climate change? It is just the same – selling fancy new cars at the Paris Car Show, watching F1 cars peed around Singapore, flying in brand new jets, sitting on hot sandy beaches, is so much more fun that watching and listening to scientists who are telling us that we are going to fry the planet. Trump has hit the nail on the head… the older folk are sitting in their beds and the young still don’t get it yet, but they will…

Site Footer