WHAT DOES 'AGEING WITHOUT CHILDREN' MEAN?
When we talk about people ageing without children we mean:
People who have not had children either through choice, infertility or circumstance e.g. they are married to someone unable to have children or they did not meet someone with whom they wished to have children.
People who have had children, but those children have predeceased them or they are unable to offer help or support because they live at a great distance or have care needs of their own.
People who have had children, but those children are unwilling to offer help and support because they are estranged or have no contact.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Health and social care services are predicated upon the implicit assumption that families fill the gaps in service provision and, in the case of older people particularly, that the people supporting them are largely their adult children. Adult children provide help in different ways: from low-level support tasks such as accompanying a parent to medical appointments, helping with cleaning and shopping, reminding their parent to take medication and some personal care tasks, such as changing dressings to high-level support from mediating with health and social services, looking after their parent's finances to being their part-time or full-time carer. Our health and care systems do not operate in a way that effectively supports people without family. Cuts in public spending on adult social care over recent years means that there has been a reduction in the types of services that provide lower-level support and a rise in the eligibility threshold reducing access to statutory support for many older people unless their needs are deemed critical or substantial. At the same time, many voluntary organisations have lost funding for help-at-home services and advocacy services. These services which are particularly crucial for people without family, are under severe pressure financially and are often only funded to deliver advocacy required by law e.g. under the Care Act 2014 and independent mental health advocacy.
Consequently, people ageing without children can be left without support and help at a time when they need it most.
'It’s a constant battle to get any help for my mum even though she’s in her 80’s and has dementia!! I feel like I am always having to shout really loudly to get anywhere. I wonder, who will be shouting for me? Or will I be the old lady dying alone in a hospital bed because no one cares?'
WHAT ARE AWwoC DOING?
- Policy and Campaigning: AWwoC raises awareness and understanding of the issues affecting people ageing without children, and advocates for the inclusion of people ageing without children in mainstream discussions on ageing.
- AWwoC Research: research the needs of people ageing without children to ensure our knowledge of the issues affecting them is evolving and growing. We share our research findings on our website www.awwoc.org, and also link to research into the issue carried out by others.
- Connecting People: AWwoC brings together people ageing without children online through its Facebook group, which has over 1,800 members, and through local groups such as the one in York which meets on a monthly basis with speakers and social events.