LET’S be honest. Growing old is not the easiest or most welcome human condition.

There is the nagging certainty that those of us for whom the stipulated life span of three score years and 10 is but a distant memory, have far more time behind us than in front.

For the male of the species, unless he happens to be obscenely wealthy and can afford cosmetic reversals, there are additional, unwanted factors: loss of memory, hearing, hair and teeth, joint problems and, cruellest of all, diminishing sex drive.

On a purely personal note, I don’t mind revealing that I reached the height of my sexual potency when I was 20 but was sick that day and missed it. Sadly, it has been downhill ever since.

However, it the past few days the Government, in the form of Health Secretary Andy Burnham, has indicated that they plan to throw another ingredient into the mix and no matter how they try to sweeten the medicine, it looks for all the world that we wrinklies will be denied a stress-free dotage. Apparently the social care system is in crisis because people are living longer and the only feasible way round the problem, so a high profile conference on the subject was informed, are voluntary or compulsory payments from Joe Public. That’s me and you.

Mr Burnham told delegates that forcing people to pay for their future care might be the only way to give them “peace of mind” that they wouldn’t be left, unable to afford their care bills.

A levy on a care patient’s estate when they die was a suggested option. There have been accusations from Tories that Labour plan a “death tax” of up to £20,000. Well, I can’t speak for everyone on the wrong side of 70, but that news didn’t give Mrs Shawcross and I much “peace of mind”. Over the years we have contributed a sizeable chunk to the central pot and resent the prospect of 20k being skimmed from what we hope to leave our children.

John Edwards, a contributor to this newspaper’s readers’ letters pages on Saturday last, fumed about hand-outs to those who play the benefits system, indicating that other people who lived productive lives paid enough to central government through a myriad of taxes without facing an additional penalty when they die.

He didn’t ask, but I will; who is going to pay for the social care of dole scroungers when they reach old age? No prizes for answering that one.

I suppose we Shawcrosses could blow our burial fund on a world cruise, though that wouldn’t be much fun for my Mrs, who was once sea-sick on a rowing boat in Morecambe boating pool. “Peace of mind?” I don’t think so Mr Burnham.