Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who has been having a very stressful time with her mother. It was the familiar story of care that was fragmented, provided without a great deal of thought, didn’t meet her mothers needs and has resulted in her being re admitted to hospital. As we talked she said what many people do in these circumstances “at least she’s got me, I don’t people with no one do, it must be awful”
I’ve heard that hundreds of times over the years working with older people services “thank god we were there to make sure mum wasn’t left alone/got seen eventually/the carers turned up/she got some decent food”
In the next 20-30 years, the to my mind at least, biggest untalked about demographic time bomb will hit care services. My generation of people in their 40s without children will start to need health and social care. A large % of us, certainly larger than previous generations will have no children, no one to provide unpaid care that is taken for granted by the State. We will have no one to point out as I have done for older relatives that promised grab rails haven’t been fitted or to accompany us to the hospital for tests or to just pick up some shopping when we’re too ill to do it ourselves.
When I tell people I can’t have children, sometimes, bravely they say “but who will look after you when you’re old?” I point out that actually have children is no guarantee that someone will look after you and anyway having children so they can provide unpaid care is a poor reason to have children.
But you know, I’ve worked in older peoples services for over 20 years. I know the reality of it. I know there is frankly bugger all help available until you’re almost immobile and unable to do even basic things for yourself. I know that ageism is rife, that people will look past you because you have grey hair and wrinkles, that without someone to fight your corner, getting any help is an uphill battle
And it it makes me bloody furious. Is it really going to be the case that just because people do not have children to look after them and fight their corner, that they’re condemned to some lesser tier of care? That those who have people shouting get better care because people in health and social care just want the shouters to stop? Whenever I stop and think about this, I feel the outrage building. Because it is outrageous! Good quality health and social care should not depend on whether you have been lucky enough to have children to push your case. The fact that it often is is utterly shameful in the 21st century.