For once, the local newspaper here in Oslo has done its job, questioning the decisions made by bureaucrats in charge of services for the elderly. And, for once, the local politicians in charge have acted swiftly.
I won’t say beer is often in the headlines here in Norway. If so, it would often be about teenagers having one too many, and adults complaining about the shocking state of today’s youth.
Some of the local administrators of social services here in Oslo had found another segment of the populations that needed supervision – the elderly. Not just any old age pensioners, mind you, but these who apply for help with their daily chores such as cleaning or shopping. About half of the local administrations had adopted a “no alcohol” policy.
Aage Pedersen is 86 and lives alone. When he broke his leg, he applied for, and was granted, help to do shopping and cleaning.
Last week he handed over his shopping list. Bread, milk, something for lunch and dinner – and a six pack of beer.
I enjoy a glass of beer with a meal, once in a while, Mr. Pedersen says to the newspaper Aftenposten.
His assistant crossed out the beer on his shopping list, and told Pedersen they had orders not to buy beer for their clients.
I was, to put it mildly, provoked, says Pedersen. I am an adult who can decide these things myself. Just because I cannot walk don the stairs does not mean that I cannot cope with a glass of beer with my dinner if I so wish. It is not as if I desperately need the beer, but they should not decide what I should buy from the supermarket!
He tried to get through to the local administration on the phone, but without success. Aftenposten, however, managed to get through, and they found out that this policy was carried out in many parts of the city.
After the media coverage, there was a very clear message from the politician in charge of the services:
This is a service we offer to those who need it, and we cannot refuse to buy beer for senior citizens if they want it. This is a moralist mentality we need to get rid of.
Pedersen got his beer, and so will others who put it on their shopping lists in reasonable amounts.
If I ran a brewery, I would give Aage Pedersen a six pack per week for the rest of his life. Just in case he ran into the control freaks again.