Captain Tom and care homes: How do we really view older people?


Author: Carl Knightly

It is not often that the elderly make headline news. Yesterday they did, but for two very different reasons.

Described as an inspiration by many, Captain Tom Moore from Keighley, aged 99, has been walking 10 laps of his back garden each day, with the aim of reaching 100 in time for his 100th birthday, to raise at least £1000 for the NHS. When this goal was reached in just 24 hours it increased, and as of today stood at over £5 million!

The story reminded us all of how we can each play our part, whether young or old. Our admiration for the wartime generation is strengthened as we hear the struggle against Covid-19 being described as a battle. We want to protect those, like Captain Tom, who are more vulnerable, and yet are still contributing powerfully to society.

On the same day five major national charities for the elderly – Alzeimers Society, Marie Curie, Age UK, Care England and Independent Age, wrote a joint letter to the government asking for more help for the elderly:

“Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second class carers. The Government must step in and make it clear that no-one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age, condition or where they live.”

At Faith in Later Life we would wholeheartedly agree with this. We know there are care homes up and down the country, often staffed by Christians, often run by Christian charities, who are struggling. There are more than 400,000 elderly and disabled people who live in nursing and residential care homes, and more than 2000 care homes are facing coronavirus outbreaks.

We know that the elderly, the disabled, the vulnerable, are just as precious as anyone else, as valuable as any celebrity or politician. God made us and preserves us. We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Some, like Captain Tom, have the health and strength to encourage a nation, and even elicit a donation of £10,000 from Piers Morgan. Others of a similar age at this time, many of them in care homes, feel forgotten, confused, and extremely scared.

Our hope is in Christ. Please join us in praying for your local care home, and for the extra help they need. You can find details of your local care home here.