Imagine a life where a visit from the postman might be the only human contact you have all week. For those of us who work in a busy office this is hard to imagine, but for many older people, it's a grim reality. Loneliness is a devastating problem in the UK and has a crippling effect on older people who endure it, day in and day out.
Today there are 800 million people aged 60 and over, all with an increased life expectancy, so, it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that soon there will be more older people on the planet than any other age group. Hence why understanding and improving the mental health of this generation is of significant importance to all of us.
The moral imperative to root out ageism in the NHS now has legal backing, following the recent expansion of the age-related provisions of the 2010 Equality Act to include services. All public sector organisations must eliminate unequal treatment on the grounds of age. But where do we start in cancer care?
This focus on the very young is perhaps a natural reflex, yet we mustn't allow it to blind us to the needs of older people. As a doctor myself, and currently president of an international medical humanitarian organisation operating in emergencies around the world, I want to challenge our sense that we should always focus first on the needs of the very young in emergencies.
Today is Older People's Day - a welcome celebration of the contribution that older people make to society. There will be much written, and still more done, to underline the importance of building bonds and relationships between people of all ages. Less, however, might be said about the issue of 'active ageing', what it means to older people and how we might achieve it.
Recent predictions from the Office of National Statistics suggest that one in three babies born today will live to 100 and beyond. Bearing in mind our ageing population, we've been doing quite a lot of work over the past five years to think about how we can enable us all to live our lives the way we want to, where we want to.