There’s a problem in our society for ageing men. Who are we when what we do is taken away?
As we all get older, and, perhaps, live beyond the age for which we were designed, we face an increasing incidence of dementia in society. It’s also true to say that it is a condition that does not discriminate between people of intellect or otherwise; no-one is immune. This condition presents us all with a challenge, as we contemplate having to face this in our own families; indeed with our own parents.
However, I believe there is another issue that has to be addressed when considering this problem. Quite rightly, in the age of equality, we have had to take a long hard look at the way in which decision making and power has been largely confined to the ‘pale, male and stale’ in society. In the pandemic of 2020, there has been a great deal of talk in the media about mental health. However, in this age of equality, do we also need to look at the impact on older men of losing this power? This is not about special pleading, or wishing to undermine our new sense of equality, but simply looking to apply the principles of equality equally. It begs the question: What does it mean to be male as we get older? What is that experience like?
My initial reason for posing this question is that I believe our treatment of those suffering with mental illness in its various guises is something of a class issue. There has always been an acceptance of eccentricity in the upper classes. Somehow this class has always found a way to put a protective arm around those who have mental health issues. So how important is our attitude to mental illness when considering its level of incidence?