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Monday, 17 April 2017

Caring for an Aging Population

I was speaking to my dad about my grandmother who has dementia and recently suffered a fall, and the conversation got me to thinking about how we will be caring for an aging population and how will it be sustained.

At the same time, I realised that my father is one of the lucky ones, he’s what you would class as an O.I.N.K (One Income Numerous Kids), but what about those who would be classed as D.I.N.K.E.R (Duel Income No Kids Early Retirement)?

My dad has 4 kids and we range in age from the youngest (that’s me) in my mid-30s to my eldest brother who’s early 40’s, we all have children ranging from early 20’s to the youngest (Blogger Babies) who are 2½.

With my dad, he has us to care for him as he ages (he’s only 64), we can, for him
·         Make hospital appointments easier to get too
·         Visit him if he is ever (god forbid) admitted to hospital
·         We can support him if the worst ever happens (like the diagnosis of a terminal illness)
·         We as a family can help him to make decisions regarding his care and treatment we can ensure that the right services are in place.
·         We know my dad, we know his wishes and beliefs his “live fast” ideal and that he wishes to grow old disgracefully and grumpily (success has been achieved here already)
·         We can help “sneak in” his favourite meals when his fed up of boring slop (his words)
·         We can notify relatives and friends and tell them where he is
·         We can just be there, so that he knows he is loved and cared for

I’m sure there is more to think about than just this list but as I write my dad is in good health and fingers crossed not expecting anything to happen just yet.  Like my family most people rely on family, a spouse or partner for help.  But what happens when the person has none of those?  Who will they count on to help in an emergency or have care for them when they get sick?

It’s very difficult to think about people going through experiences like social isolation or abuse whether in a care home or at home, when they are alone and have no one to support them.  In honesty, it happens to those who do have people who care for them many campaign for changes that are slow in coming but so very needed.  Currently there is over a million people who are 65 or older and who have never been parents or have but tragedy and circumstance means they are aging alone.  Many have family who are too far away and unable to help.  Some have different reasons.

There are people going through a care system that is failing or falling apart now with no support, no loved ensuring a better standard of care for them and this is likely to increase as the demographic shift continues.

This cannot continue.   

We cannot have a system where people with children to fight for them make their care more bearable (I can’t bring myself to say to have a better experience because I don’t think they do, despite having loved one) and those without children being the forgotten aging population.

I know and I appreciate that Social Care is under mounting pressures, that there is a struggle to fund services and advocacy is under resourced, that the Government’s answer to the pressures of caring for older people when they need it is “family must do more”.   We must, we should find a way, all of us working in the Care sector to answer the question of “who will do the things children do when there are no children?”

We must also ask ourselves “is it just about the money?”
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