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8% of carers are providing care to non family members (Measuring National Well-being Households and Families, 2012), a whacking 92% of care is provided by family, primarily either adult children caring for parents or older couples providing care to a spouse/partner.

And yet still documents routinely refer to “older people their families and carers” as if they are two distinct groups of people. They are not, they are really not and phrases like this hide the extent to which if an older person doesn’t have family to help, they are pretty stuck to say the least.

Next year as The Generation Strain report (IPPR 2014) points out

“as the babyboomer generation ages, a growing ‘family care gap’ will develop as the number of older people in need of care outstrips the number of adult children able to provide it. This is expected to occur for the first time in 2017”

There really are no excuses for organisations working with older people whether state, third sector or private to continue the myth that families aren’t absolutely vital to providing support and care to older people, and that older people without family are at a massive disadvantage. We know that that there are going to be an awful lot more older people without family and this deserves just as much consideration as for example issues around dementia or carers. Perhaps when everyone is planning their conferences and policies on ageing for 2017 this can be front and centre; what are we going to do collectively as the family care gap grows?

We are here, talk to us, we want to help. We know there isn’t any money but we’re very creative! Who knows? The solutions we come up with may even help older people with families too.

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