Should older people rely on their children for end of life care?

Should older people rely on their children for end of life care?

When it comes to thinking about care when we reach a certain age, it’s indirectly assumed that we’re going to rely on help from younger family members. But it’s estimated that, by 2030, there’ll be more than a million adults aged 65 to 74 without children. This is double the number in 2012. Here we look at how end of life care relies heavily on family help, and what this means for people who either don’t have children or a family network nearby.

There’s more older people living without help from social care

The charity Age UK has estimated that there are now more than a million older people who struggle with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, preparing and eating meals, and going to the toilet. It’s thought that this is because they don’t have the support they need to do this.

A few years ago, the think tank IPPR suggested that by 2030, around 230,000 older people in England who need 20 hours of care a week or more could be left without family to help. The same report also forecast that those aged 65 and over without children to care for them will nearly double within the next 10 years.

The current state of end-of-life care

So what’s being done to solve the issue? We’re more likely to experience prolonged periods of worsening health and frailty as we get older. With mental decline also playing a huge factor in the way we die now, there’s set to be a larger need for good end of life care.

Hospice care has grown massively in recent years, with many NHS hospitals combining with charitable palliative care teams. But the system relies on care done by family members, which in 2010 was thought to total around 7.6bn hours. Without this vital care being done by family, we wonder what standard of care would be provided for those who need it.

Why will there be more older people who need care than children to look after them?

It’s obvious that families will help each other out. But when it’s becoming normal for older people to not have any children, a system that relies on the two generations helping each other out is outdated in such a changing society.

It’s also likely that families will be scattered about the globe. How will your daughter who’s got a year’s job contract in Australia be able to keep up with your day to day living? Apart from putting undue financial pressure on one generation to care for their older parents full-time, it’s hard to see how end of life care provision as it stands can be sustained.

With the rise in community initiatives such as HomeShare, which connects older people with people who would benefit from low cost housing, solving loneliness and support issues within a larger housing problem, care for older people should now be a problem we all try to tackle.

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