NHS 50
Your NHS
photo exhibition
Suzz's Story
Mental Health
Country Practice
Accident & Emergency
Inner City General Practice
Care for the elderly

'Care for the elderly'

'The Gallery'
Photo Exhibition Image Photo Exhibition Image Photo Exhibition Image
Photo Exhibition Image Photo Exhibition Image Photo Exhibition Image

'The Photographer`s Story'

Jonathan Olley photographed at Airedale General Hospital in West Yorkshire, and with district nurses of the Airedale NHS Trust.

"Being old is not something that anybody really wants to discuss. Although politically it is one of the most important aspects of healthcare. And we can almost guarantee that we'll all be old one day.

"My fear is not of growing old. My fear is getting ill. When you're ill, you're no longer self-reliant; you live at the behest of others. That does frighten me.

"I wanted to go for a balanced view. When you get old people in hospital, they don't smile a lot. They're ill, and that's why they're there. Quite often they want to die, at home, and it's the families who want them in hospital.

"A lot might not have liked having their pictures taken. But they liked the company. I talked to them - odd conversations about the difference between Lancastrians and Yorkists.

"I felt inspired by one of the geriatric consultants. I admire him for doing something I couldn't do. I'm not altruistic enough to work in geriatrics.

"All the people I was photographing were around before the NHS. So they appreciate it in a way I never could. The NHS is doing very well for them giving them expensive procedures to diagnose conditions, and drugs to cure them. But I felt the service could do more to treat each one as a person."

In the lifetime of the NHS, life expectancy in Britain has risen from 71 to 79 for women, and from 66 to 71 years for men. The proportion of elderly people in the population continues to rise; people aged 65+ currently make up 16 per cent of the population.

The main killers of all age groups are coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer. Some 40 per cent of NHS spending is on elderly people, although only two per cent are in hospital at any one time. In older people, depression is the most common mental illness.

More than 8,000 British people are aged 100 or more, most of them women.

back top next

Copyright © 1998, NHS