John Harris

Journalist & Author

Coronavirus has deepened prejudice against older people | John Harris

We should worry about generational divisions getting even worse – but it is not too late to shift attitudes toward our elders

Last week, I spoke to a man called Richard Kempner about the recent death of his mother, Sheila. It was a difficult and impossibly moving conversation, made all the more affecting by the fact that the previous night he had forwarded me photographs and videos of her that went back nearly 30 years.

On Easter Saturday, she died, aged 86, in the care home where she had lived since late last year. For 20 years she had suffered from an increasingly debilitating immune condition – but after she moved in, her health had taken a noticeable upswing. Then, for the three weeks prior to her death, lockdown meant that she could not see any visitors and remained confined to her room. Despite these precautions, her family were then told that a case of Covid-19 had possibly “impacted” the care home.

Earlier this month, Robert Peston called people who live in some care homes ‘inmates’, which is quite a Freudian slip

Related: While the UK’s key workers lack PPE, ministers clapping for them is an insult | Owen Jones

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