Anne Karpf is a columnist, writer and sociologist and author of How to Age, published by Pan Macmillan.
All blogs are the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Age.
If I read another article on the war between the generations I may turn violent. You don't need a GCSE in history, economics or commonsense to realise that older people are not a homogenous group - uniformly privileged and wealthy, as that odious term 'babyboomer' suggests.
In reality, older people are among the poorest in our society. At the same time young people are suffering serious unemployment, homelessness and hopelessness. This is because it's social class and economic policy that primarily shape your daily experience, and not your age.
Most families are made up of several generations, who support each other both economically and socially. The poverty of grandparents impacts upon their children and grandchildren, just as the unemployment faced by young people is a matter of concern to their parents.
So let's junk the clichés about inter-generational inequity and reframe the debate, in two ways. First, let's encourage inter-generation links. We live today in something approaching age apartheid, which confines people in age ghettoes (schools, old people's homes, even 'senior screenings' at the cinema).
Instead let's foster cross-age friendships - I reckon the age difference between my oldest and youngest friends is around 40 years - and initiatives like Cocktails in Care Homes, monthly evening cocktail parties run by young people for residents of homes, or Homeshare, which matches younger homeless people with older home-owners who need help and companionship. All ages gain: old people get help, younger benefit from the experience of older, and everyone is less likely to stereotype on the basis of age.
Second, instead of using inflammatory, fear-provoking language about an imminent 'silver tsunami' of old people, let's apply ourselves to creating 'age-friendly communities', as the World Health Organisation has suggested.
What does this mean in practice? At present, the urban environment discriminates against old people: it's designed for the perfectly mobile, healthy person without dependents. Just imagine cities with seating at every bus shelter; chairs in shops; abundant functioning, accessible public toilets and public transport; plentiful park benches; no pavement parking; and traffic lights that leave enough time for people who aren't 400 metre Olympic champions to cross the road.
Interestingly, they benefit not only older people but many others too - those with disabilities, children, pregnant women, people pushing buggies or carrying heavy shopping. Because an age-friendly environment is a human-friendly one.
What do you think needs to happen to make the UK the best country to grow older in?
What concerns you most about growing older and why?
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