A CHARITY has called for urgent action after it emerged that over half of over 50s in Scotland believe they are not valued for their contribution to society as pandemic recedes.

Age Scotland said that its research revealed a "worrying picture" of the way older people feel regarded and portrayed in Scotland in the wake of the pandemic.

It reveals that over one in three believed that they were made to feel a burden to society.

The charity and Scotinform, which questioned more than 3,500 people aged 50 and over living in Scotland, found that only one in five older people (21%) feel wanted and that 51 per cent of over 50s said "older people are not valued for their contribution to society".

The Big Survey found that 34% felt life was getting worse for older people, while only 25 per cent said it was getting better.

People in their 50s and 60s were less likely to agree that life was getting better than those over 70.

Brian Sloan,chief executive of Age Scotland said: “This research paints a stark picture of how older people in Scotland feel regarded in 2021, and at times made very tough reading.

“The last 18 months have already taken a huge toll on older people, both in terms of the health impact of the pandemic and soaring levels of loneliness and isolation. Now it is heart-breaking to read that most older people don’t feel valued by our society, with more than a third being made to feel that their lives are a burden.

“While many of us are looking forward to the recovery, few over-50s have an optimistic view of the future.

“It is clear that the pandemic has had a considerable impact, not just on physical health, but also on well-being and self-confidence of older people in Scotland.

HeraldScotland:

“Although older people are often portrayed as helpless victims in the media, this outdated image belies the huge contribution made by those in later life, even during the pandemic."

A third of older Scots (34%) considered that their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic.

Some 53% of respondents stated that the pandemic had made them feel lonelier and just over one in three felt that life is getting worse for older people in Scotland.

The research found two in three were less active during lockdown, only 48% were exercising regularly and 42% said they didn’t get out as much as they used to but were still mobile.

“It’s extremely disappointing that our research has found too many of them do not feel valued. Older people have contributed in countless ways throughout their lives, and no one should spend their later years feeling they are a burden on others," added Mr Sloan.

“During the pandemic, tens of thousands of Scots in their 50s, 60s, and 70s continued to carry out essential work, including frontline NHS workers, carers, delivery drivers and supermarket workers. Many more older volunteers led the response in their communities, reaching out to those who were vulnerable or in need of help. And across Scotland, day in, day out, older people are tirelessly caring for other family members."

In June, researchers at Strathclyde University found that older people were in danger of losing the ability to do daily tasks because of the pandemic.

They said that after the closure of vital support services during lockdown, it is important that people get back to being physically and socially active as soon as possible, to stop any decline.

Moira Bruce, 85, from the Clackmannanshire Older Adults Forum said: “Older people are absolutely not a burden, and it can be infuriating to hear politicians and others talk about the 'cost' of an ageing population or pensions, and 'bed blockers' using healthcare and social care.

“You can understand why so many older people don’t feel valued when our contribution isn’t highlighted very often. They give so much to their community and country as volunteers, support for their families and the economy - whether through work, paying taxes and spending. I see older people out every day in my community going out of their way to help and support others of all ages.

“Older people are like an underused resource bank. Speak to them, not about them and society will be so much richer. What a bonus.”

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “No one should ever feel a burden to society. Older people make a huge and vital contribution to society, to the workplace, volunteering, and to their own families, particularly if they have caring responsibilities.

“The Scottish Government very much value our older people and this is shown though our A Fairer Scotland for Older People action plan which was specifically developed to challenge the inequalities older people face as they age and to celebrate older people.

“In addition we intend to include in our Human Rights Bill a right for older people to ensure equal access to their human rights so that they can live a life of dignity and independence.

“We know that older people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic which is why we halve also taken steps to keep people connected through £1 million to Age Scotland to expand their Helpline and Friendship services, and the funding of digital devices and to organisations tackling loneliness.

“We also meet regularly with the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum  which brings us the lived experience as well as the expertise to inform future policy development.”