11 Over 60 and beyond … the alienation of a new generation: exploring the alienation of older people from society
The global phenomenon of population ageing brings with it a myriad of challenges for many older people, including major economic, health and social impacts. Modernisation and globalisation have created major and often pervasive sociocultural changes, which are now evident in most developed and developing countries. As a result, traditional values are breaking down, such as family cohesion and traditional care and support, and in its wake, those over 60 now inadvertently form a new generation of marginalised people; hence the alienation of this newly-formed generation of those aged 60 and above. Since the twentieth century, the population across the globe is ageing at an
unparalleled rate. This is how the ‘ageing population’ is commonly deﬁned, and coupled with an incremental growth in longevity, the burden of chronic diseases correspondingly increase. Given the consequences that population ageing bring to each stratum of society, there are often reactive rather than proactive responses to human ageing from macro, meso and micro levels of society. This is largely a consequence of ageist reactions to ageing itself. Due to factors surrounding the complexities of the ageing population, in
recent years it had been recognised that there is a case for an international convention on the rights of older people (Tang and Lee 2006). As they age, people become devalued and lose their rights as active members of society. In a world where neglect and violation of older people’s rights are common, to what extent do these factors contribute to the feelings of alienation of this age group? This chapter will examine factors which have historically led to this new
generation being marginalised from society. Given the exponential growth of the ageing population in Western countries, it is envisaged that the social exclusion or alienation of older people is an issue of great public health signiﬁcance, in particular, contributing to an escalation of the burden of mental health, depression and general well-being of this group. What was the ‘golden age’ for many is now emerging as the era of the ‘black dog’. Factors such as a breakdown of tradition, materialism, gender issues, ageing
as a social justice issue, and the acceleration of the vulnerability, fear and dependency of older people will be discussed in the light of their contribution to the alienation of this new generation of older people.