Senior Citizens Day: 5 ways the world has changed in the ageing population's lifetime
Sunday, August 21st, 2016 | Raising Awareness
Traditionally an American awareness day, Senior Citizens Day is celebrated every year on 21st August to show support, honour and appreciation for the elderly and their achievements. With over 11.6 million people aged over 65 in the UK, half a million people aged over 90 and a 72% increase in centenarians during the last decade, we at Kare Plus think it’s about time this celebration makes it way over the pond.
Our elderly generation has been through a lot – from world-changing wars to our modern digital age – and, as a result, are no strangers to hard times, adapting to new challenges and embracing new eras. Some of these have been good, some of them have been difficult – but together, they highlight the strength and experience our elder generation have.
Here are a few examples that highlight why we think the UK should celebrate Senior Citizens on 21st August each year alongside our American cousins.
There were wars before WW1 and WW2, and there have been wars since, but together these two wars are responsible for the most deaths by war ever. 87 million people died during these two wars (70 million of which was in World War 2 alone), and both of which happened in the lifetime of today’s centenarians. To have witnessed one of these atrocities would have a lasting impact of any of us, but to have witnessed two is a testament to our older generation’s strength and determination.
If it wasn’t for the part they all played in these wars, be that on the home front or on the battlefields, the UK we know today could have been a very different place.
Nowadays, technology doesn’t make our lives comfortable; it makes them achievable. For a start, this very article is being hosted one of 4.54 billion pages on the internet. This is the same internet that allows us to stay in touch with friends, colleagues and businesses; access our bank accounts and find our way to anywhere in the world – whilst taking photos on the way!
For example, the first humble crossword was released in 1916. Yet nowadays, millions upon millions of people are downloading and playing Candy Crush Saga on their mobile phones. The first ever email was sent in 1971, meaning today’s centenarians spent the first 55 years of their lives communicating long distance by letter.
After a lifetime of ‘old’ technology, it is magnificent how many elderly people we see nowadays with a mobile phone, computer or tablet – when they spent decades with merely a pen, paper and ink.
Following the US stock market crash in 1929, the entire world experienced an economic downturn – the UK included. Over the following four years, the country was in a spiralling decline. Unemployment increased 25%, but still income tax was increased, unemployment pay was reduced by 10%, import duties were introduced and the means test was brought into effect.
The Government had little control over what was happening, and following a series of poor decisions, as aforementioned, some areas were hit so bad whole towns were made redundant.
As with wars, this is not the only recession the UK has witnessed, but the longest single period of recession in the last 100 years and perhaps the most damaging to everyday life – right between the two biggest wars of all time.
Back in 1915, just 14% of households had a bathtub – and that doesn’t mean they had a walk in shower instead! Unlike today, when many of us can shower more than once every day, when our centenarians were born it would most likely have been one bath a week, in a metal basin in front of the fire…with one load of water per family.
When the NHS was established in 1950, hygiene levels were very different from today – with reusable bedpans to name just one example. Nowadays, a lot of disposable equipment means hygiene standards and patient safety is vastly improved.
We have all heard the phrase ‘the best thing since sliced bread’, right? Well first seen in a bakery in Missouri in 1928, sliced bread is another life changing event of the last 100 years.
Ever since Otto Frederick Rohwedder sliced his first loaf with his slicing machine at the Chillicothe Baking Company, there is yet to be an invention or advancement pinpointed as a greater improvement for mankind.
We agree, this is perhaps open for debate – but in all reality, the idea of a machine that perfectly automatically slices bread to any set thickness in the 1920s would have been impressive stuff and one of the first everyday applications of new technology.
What do you think have been the biggest impact in yours, your parent’s or grandparent’s lifetimes?
FlickR: Moyan Brenn