There have probably been better times to be growing older and looking forward to a bit of feet-up time, with the occasional day trip to gently spice up a life of hard-earned leisure.

The elderly – along with the not quite past it yet – have suddenly found themselves at the wrong side of social politics. Not exactly public enemy number one yet. But getting closer.

The end of the stick that is dirty and noxiously smelly is within grasp. Even if all you had in mind for retirement was more telly in the cosy warmth of your own home, you’re heading up the creek without the paddle you’d saved for – before the state pension you’d banked on was put back six years with not so much as a by your leave.

So, no. Not the best of times for counting on savings and plans made in your 20s and 30s.

Perhaps we should have seen it all coming. Though what we might have done about any of it remains at precisely zero. Free TV licences for the over-75s are to be stopped, bus passes for the elderly will go too. That winter fuel allowance you were looking forward to – you’ll soon be knocking that on the head.

The over-50s, it’s mooted, should be paying more in tax to help the young, who are struggling to save for the old age they believe will never come. And if it’s mooted, we can guess what comes next.

It is, as they say in all the best households, just hard lines for older people who have had the temerity to live too long. Better news for those who think they never will.

And then there’s the care homes thing. Sorry to pile doom onto a hefty heap of gloom but the recent collapse into administration of Four Seasons Health Care, which houses 17,000 elderly residents across more than 320 homes, adds more grim writing to the graffiti wall of worry.

Maybe we weren’t paying enough attention to notice the tide turning against the old. Or was it that we were, at the time, not old enough to care?

It’s to be hoped the latter was never the case. It surely still holds true that any society’s claim to being truly civilised can be measured in large part by the care it delivers to its elderly, sick and vulnerable. I’m not convinced we’re doing very well on that score.

“Care home places grew scarcer when they decided all rooms should have en-suite bathrooms old people won’t use,” my argumentative friend threw out.

You’ll remember her. She’s the one who knows everything. Because her son’s a GP.

“They became scarcer and more at risk of closure when they were handed over to private companies with shareholders,” I said.

“And en-suite bathrooms.”

“You want workhouses, now?”

The subject was changed before the friendship fractured.

She’s older than I am, happily drawing her pension, so can’t be accused of missing the point. But an I’m-alright-Jack mood seems to have clamped a vice-like grip on many now. That much we probably did see coming but rather hoped it would go away again. Everything is cyclical, right?

Not necessarily. Four Seasons isn’t the first care provider to hit the buffers. All evidence points to it not being the last. Fingers of blame are pointed at government funding (subsidy) cuts, local authorities losing the will to be bothered, an inevitable wave of privatisation in all aspects of health and social care which has gone too far to be reversed.

What’s most alarming is the shrug of acceptance which greets yet another big blow to a once fine record of looking after those unable to look after themselves. And the grubby way in which the young are being deliberately set against the old – resentment positively encouraged - as though they are two different species.

They are not. In the responsibility we share for care, we are all in it together... a discredited philosophy now.

The truth is that, if we’re lucky, we are all going to grow old, maybe infirm, certainly in need of help at some later stage.

Where’s it going to come from, without any signs of a willingness to fix what’s broken?