Author: Eileen Gonzalez

One of the many things that make aging without children so difficult for people to engage with is that bluntly, thinking about it is hugely uncomfortable. There are many wonderful campaigners – Beth Britton http://d4dementia.blogspot.co.uk  Nicci Gerrard and Julia Jones of Johns Campaign http://johnscampaign.org.uk , Gill Phillips http://nutshellcomms.co.uk to name only a few who have taken the poor experiences and treatment of their parents and used them to campaign to improve the experiences of all older people. As you read the stories of what happened to their parents and the things they had to do, it’s easy to empathize and think how you would feel if it were your parents going through the same thing. Its harder to start to think about, in detail, what happens to people with no one to fight for them.

One of the many consequences of there being more people aging without children is that more and more people are not, and never will be grandparents. 1 in 5 people over 50 have no children and therefore of course no grandchildren. In addition, there are many more older people who do have children but those children will never be parents, and therefore who will also not be grandparents.

Over the next 20/30 years, there will be unprecedented numbers of people without children reaching the oldest old age. Policy and planning focused on older people being supported by their children/grandchildren in later life will not meet this need and risks leaving individuals ageing without children dangerously unsupported. Research has shown that smaller families in general means that wider family networks cannot be depended on to “step up” in the absence of children and that wider unpaid care networks made up of wider kin and friends do not substitute for children as health declines. This means that there will be a greater reliance on formal care services at a time when they have never been under such intense pressure.