The Forgotten Elderly – Who Cares for Older People Without Families?

December 21st, 2016 | Posted by Kirsty Woodard in Care

“It’s bad enough if you are old & have a family, I know that from looking after my mum, but what about those of us who have no one? What on earth will happen to us when we need help?” Ageing Without Children (AWOC) member

Next year, for the first time, there will be more older people who need care and support than there is family to provide it. The “family care gap” identified in the 2014 IPPR report “The Generation Strain” is set to grow. By 2030, it is estimated that 2 million people over 65 will be without adult children to help, support, and care for them. This comes at a time when social care is in complete crisis, with chronic underfunding and staff shortages leading to fewer and fewer older people getting help. This causes an inevitable increased reliance on family support.

Kirsty Woodard, founder & director of AWOC said:

“Frankly, it’s terrifying how this issue has been completely overlooked. 2016 has been awash with stories about the problems of social care, but not one of them has even mentioned what happens to all the older people without family to help them. Society just assumes that all older people have family and it’s just not the case. With the demographic shift and changing lifestyles there will be even more older people without families in future. We haven’t even begun as a society to process this and the impact it will have on care services.”

AWOC have been consulting with people ageing without children as part of a plan to develop new support models for them. The consultation has identified that their biggest fear is having no one to speak up for them and being forgotten and neglected by a society that doesn’t value older people.

“When older people are in hospital or need help from social services, it’s nearly always the family that are there making sure things are OK, whether that’s bringing in a change of clothes, talking to doctors, ringing people up, or filing in forms. Many people ageing without children are carers who’ve battled the system for their own parents and are frankly terrified at what will happen to them with no one to speak up for them.”

AWOC is looking at how people ageing without children can come together to develop their own support networks so that people aren’t left alone in times of crisis.

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