Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter deaths

The BBC is concerned about the rise in excess winter deaths last year.

There were an estimated 43,900 excess deaths in England and Wales last winter, the highest number since 1999, figures show.

The report suggests most of the deaths involved people over 75.

Many people attribute these deaths to the cold weather but there is a more obvious explanation – television. As nights become longer and days become shorter, elderly people with impaired mobility are likely to watch more and more television and therein lies a serious but unsuspected risk. Imagine the scene - 

Outside it is cold, wet and dark. An elderly person switches on the television expecting to be cheered or entertained but Strictly Come Prancing is on yet again. Or the news is spewing out anxiety, or one of those interminable property shows with dull folk wandering around houses they aren’t going to buy because they can’t really afford them and only wanted to see their silly faces on telly.

Wouldn’t that have a depressing physiological effect on any viewer, let alone a frail and elderly viewer who needs cheering up on a cold winter evening?

So our elderly person goes off to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, trying to spin it out until the next show, hoping for something a little better, a little more cheering or stimulating. Even something with a modicum of intellectual quality...

...It’s bloody Eastenders again.

So our elderly person goes off to the kitchen for a tot of whiskey to perk up that cup of tea, trying to spin it out until the next show, hoping for something a little better, a little more cheering or stimulating. Even something with a modicum of intellectual quality...

...It’s bloody Question Time again.

So we see how the long hours of winter television could easily depress a person’s vital forces, their natural resistance to bodily decline. It’s okay for someone my age. I can demostrate this by switching on the television without undue risk because for my age I’m reasonably fit and heal


Anonymous said...

Cold Winter - Fat Churchyard.

You touch upon the boomer's problem. Knocking off time rolls round - about 17:30 and it's time to sit down with a cup of Earl Grey, light the fire and turn on the telly. But with 200 odd channels and not a single one worth watching until 20:00 there is a temptation to open the plonk. Dinner intervenes - another glass and before you know the doctor's limit is out the window. All a cunning plan I reckon. Still, nice thick books are cheap enough at the Oxfam shop.

Anonymous said...

They should all move to three storey homes, take up blogging and install their computers on the top floor. Getting up and down the stairs is excellent exercise. It is also a goodly distance from the kitchen from where instructions are likely to emanate!

And yes, I do speak from experience!

James Higham said...

Certainly an angle I'd not thought of.

A K Haart said...

Roger and James - I've now seen a number of cases where elderly people begin drinking significantly more than they ever did before. Doctors tended to treat it with a shrug - does it matter at their age?

David - one day some busybody may suggest you bring the laptop downstairs in winter and put a blanket over your knees while blogging. Should lead to some blogging fireworks!

Derek said...

Well at my age - 68yrs - I do not hold a TV licence, and I wouldn't if it were free. I don't watch broadcast programs, but will occasionally watch a crime drama on bbci player. Nor do I buy newspapers. Those that come my way are gifted and used to light the fire in the sitting room, what snippets I do catch prior to ripping some story in half and dribbling on a little paraffin as fire 'medicine', come over as pure dross. I can still haul lumps of timber on my shoulder and cut same as fuel.

My 88yr old widowed Sister is also slightly different. She loves certain 'soaps', but is spry, and walks her dogs twice a day - I can just about keep up. She is no slave to the television.

I think some of the attributed deaths may well come from the nations 'health care' - or lack thereof. Hospital contracted diseases are a real killer, and age is no barrier to that. People deteriorate when they see no point if existence. Their life's work done, and with no hobbies or other interest, the mental attitudes change into lethargy. Add the broadcast fears from terrorism and you have two major ingredients to lock one's self away.

My grandmother died aged 95, with her family around her in her council flat on the fourth floor of a tower block in North London. She never had a television her whole life, though would listen to the Queen's Christmas speech on the radio. Most of her news came from across the street, and often than not involved the local gossip - not national. What paper she read was a local one. Her 'street news' ended when council rehoused her for what was to be her last 13yrs alive, and the street and the community there, was demolished. Her flat was more a prison - no neighbours to be seen, doors swiftly closed, and with an elevator used as a urinal, she went out only four times a year with family as escort to an annual celebration.

Dad passed away from a heart attack whilst out walking (72yrs), Mum, inconsolable, stumbled on for another six year suffering dementia, and passed in her sleep in a Cottage Hospital since demolished and is now a Tesco's.

Time for more tea. And there's a wheel bearing on the car that needs attention, but what the hell - let's light the fire instead.

A K Haart said...

Derek - interesting comment, you have two years on me.

"Dad passed away from a heart attack whilst out walking (72yrs)" much too soon but it's how I'd like to go.

Are you hassled about the TV licence?

Derek said...

Hassled? Well, we get a letter every two years asking if our circumstances have changed. As it hasn't, I reply so, and another two years pass.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Why turn on the telly? Listen the wireless instead - preferably the Third Programme. Problem solved.

Or, as the fellow nearly said, if someone else turns on the idiot box, go into another room and read a book. Problem solved again.

Simples really.

A K Haart said...

Derek - we must try it.

WY - our evenings are mostly spent reading or web browsing. Not much telly these days but the grandchildren like it.

Derek said...

Grandchildren - therein lay an issue. What are they absorbing? Wii, playstation and DS dominate. At my Grandmother's I was spoken to, sat, listened, and sometimes asked questions. There was no TV, and the radio was off. Apart from speech, the only sound was the clicking of knitting needles.

Children get divorced from old people, their solicitor is in the form of electronics. Yet those same electronics can lead to so much education if used sensibly.

As an older generation are we partly to blame when a seven year old surprises us by sorting out some glitch in a program that makes us step back and let them take over?

With regard to TV licencing, there are numerous videos on You Tube regarding avoiding being scammed, but this one is quite good:

You can deny them access to your property, and you can deny them your name. You have a lawful right to do so if they call, and they must go away.