Everybody is getting older, this is a fact of life, however this does not prevent those in the younger generation from judging the elderly, the term ‘respect your elders’ falling on deaf ears.
Part of getting older is the use of mobility aids to regain the movement and freedom of the younger days past, but there has always been a stigma attached to the use of these products, associating their use with being useless and frail; however it seems that the stigma is mainly in the minds of the users.
A recent survey, conducted by Stair-Lift-Comparison.co.uk, showed that 33% of the 350 users that took part believed that there was a stigma attached to the use of mobility aids, with over a third believing that mobility scooters attracted the greatest stigma.
One mobility product user said: ‘In spite of our “modern and educated” society, there is a strong stigma attached to anyone who uses any form of mobility aid.’
Mobility aids are not hidden away in care homes anymore; they are more prominent in public, often seen in town centres with more establishments catering to the needs of these users.
Jason Tate, Director of Stair-Lift-Comparison.co.uk, said: ‘It is human nature that the more familiar we become with something, the more accepting we are.’
Mobility aids have also made their way into pop culture, Up’s, somewhat grumpy, protagonist is seen on a stair lift at the beginning and with a walking stick throughout the film which doesn’t debilitate his ability to go on an adventure.
Dizzee Rascal and Robbie Williams were seen with a parade of mobility scooters in the video ‘Goin’ crazy’ and more recently we were re-introduced to wheelchair bound comic book hero Charles Xavier, played by James Mcavoy, in Xmen: Days of Future past.
The survey also showed that 81% of those that took part believed that society is becoming more accepting of mobility aids: probably due in large part to this growing presence in society and in pop culture.
The growing acceptance could also be linked to the growing number of people over 65 in the UK.
It seems as if the older generation as a whole are steeping away from the weak stereotype and are being seen as respectable figures in society. For example, there are more older celebrities gracing our screens than ever before, with actors such as Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren dominating Hollywood.
Elderly people are also prominent on our TV screens, we have Dot Cotton in EastEnders, Mary Berry showing us all a thing or two about cakes and recently we had an incredible spry OAP, Paddy Jones, whose technically difficult and awe inspiring dancing made her a favourite of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent.
These prominent figures prove that being elderly isn’t the setback it used to be; particularly with the use of mobility aids.
A parliamentary report shows that the number of UK citizens aged 65 and over will nearly double from the current 10 million to 19 million by the year 2050.
This means that the stigma may soon eventually disappear as more and more people are reaching the age where mobility aids are needed, and eventually will be using them in an age where they will be accepted.