So, how was the Budget for you? Regardless of how one is or isn’t affected, you won’t have to look too far in your family to find someone who is.
My parents will be 50 years married next year. In this time they have;
- Lived in the same house
- Banked with the same branch of the same bank
- Had the same phone company, same electricity provider, same insurance company etc.
- Shopped in the same branch of the same supermarket, on the same day of the week, at just about the same time
- Gone on the same holiday, to the same place, at the same time of year, for as many years as they were physically able
The same. Just how they like it. Routine, familiar, comforting. I’m sure there are plenty of other elderly couples, singles, siblings etc who are just like them. And where’s the harm in that?
But of course that’s not good enough for our government and other authorities.
Amidst the raft of horrible cuts to older people in this year’s budget, the severance of the landline phone allowance generated much talk.
‘Change to another provider,’ they said.
‘Change to a mobile phone instead!’ they said.
Yes, that could be done. But why should it be done – why should they have to? Older people who like things just so, don’t want change.
My father would be a different case in point. He has dementia. His ability to use a landline is ingrained. He would forget where he left a mobile phone. Forget the unlocking code. Forget how to turn it on/off.
Change is not as wanted – or easy – as people can sometimes glibly think.
For years my mother like to travel directly to pay her own bills. Up to the ESB office, over to eircom, into the Insurance company. ‘ I know that they’re paid and it’s a job done’ she’d say. Then they gradually shut down these customer facing facilities. Streamlining, they said. Costcutting, we muttered. So, her bills were then all paid by cheque. Now, her bank informs her, cheques will cost €1.10 each (in advance of their getting rid of them) . Oh and while we’re at it, Mrs Customer, don’t be coming in queuing up with your lodgements, go over there and use our fancy machine. And don’t bring coins. Unless they’re bagged. And unless it’s a Tuesday…. Have you ever heard the like? Longstanding, loyal customers, being ordered what to do, or not do, with their own money. That the banks wouldn’t exist without.
My parents won’t be hit by the medical card changes – this time around. Between them both they have nearly a dozen different prescriptions. Mam asked her chemist once how much all of them would actually cost for a months supply. ‘I’d be afraid to tell you’ was the reply. Would YOU like a €125 per month pay cut? Because that’s the change possibly facing many older (and not so old) people who could end up paying for all medications without their long used and accustomed to medical cards.
‘Change or die’ the saying goes. Older people do not welcome the former. What is the other option again?
Their dignity, their routines, their creature comforts – why can’t they just leave our older people be.