Ageing Without Children




“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?”

At the beginning of 2015, Ageing without Children (AWOC) carried out an online survey of 400 people ageing without children. The full survey report and analysis can be viewed and downloaded here: awocsurvey15

Key Findings

  • The biggest fear (92 respondents) was having no one to speak up for them or act in their best interests when they could no longer do so for themselves
  • 78 feared being lonely and losing their peer group
  • 65 were worried they had no one to call on in emergency
  • 50 were afraid they would be abused or neglected
  • Other major issues were; help with practical tasks (36), being unable to afford care (24), end of life care (24), poor care from the NHS (20),
  • In terms of services, co-housing was the most popular (84% in favour), followed by ‘networks of community volunteers’ (thought useful by 73%), and joint housing (55%). There was also support for the idea of surrogate grand-parenting (42% in favour) and shared living arrangements (36%).
  • However, many other service options were also listed as important with access to information and advice, advocacy and care navigator services to coordinate and support people to access support all being key.
  • It was notable that many people seemed not be aware of services that already existed highlighting a gap in awareness and marketing of services.
  • 90% felt that the Government had not recognised the numbers of people ageing without children and felt they were unaware of the impact on health and social care, or regarded it as unimportant.
  • The majority of respondents felt that wider society was unaware of the numbers of people ageing without children or did not see it as their problem to worry about.
  • Two thirds of respondents had wanted children but been unable to have them for medical reasons or other life circumstances but one third had made a positive decision to be childfree.
  • It is clear that in order to support the rising numbers of people ageing without children, there will be a great need for Information & advice, Advocacy services, Care coordination/care navigator services, Services that provide practical assistance, A greater range of housing options, A range of technological solutions – accompanied by support to help people learn how to use them.

However it goes beyond the need for services; there is clearly a need to change culture and mindsets within organisations and the wider community.

  • Government planning on ageing needs to take into account that increasing numbers of people will get old without family support.
  • Local authorities particularly need to do far more to identify how many people in their area are likely to age without children and incorporate this into strategies on ageing
  • Health and social care services must not assume that there is family support to plug gaps in provision of care or that there is a family member making sure that what is meant to be being provided, is being provided.
  • Within the wider community, there is a need to invest in intergenerational programmes and activities so that cross generation contact becomes the norm for people whether or not they have children or grandchildren.
  • The assumption that everyone who has family could or should be cared for by them needs to be challenged. Rhetoric that centres on families being responsible for the care of older people is unhelpful and should stop. Instead, all people whether they have children or not should be encouraged to make plans for their later life that take into account what will happen if they do need help or care

The full survey report and analysis can be viewed and downloaded here: awocsurvey15

New survey!

We are trying to find out more about the wider family relationships of people ageing without children. Online survey here Survey on wider family relationships



  1. Thank you for sharing these. It’s great to know what the common themes are, and that our own individual fears are shared by others. I look forward to more light being shed on this invisible shared experience.


  2. […] Earlier this year, Alliance member Ageing without Children (AWOC) carried out an online survey of 400 people ageing without children.  “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?” .  follow the link to the survey report: […]


  3. […] 1 in 5 people over 50 don’t have children and by 2030, 2 million people will be over 65 without adult children. Many more will not have support from their adult children for other reasons e.g. they are estranged, they reside a long way away. Ageing without Children has been set up to consider the impact of this on both individual older people and wider society. As part of this, earlier this year we carried out an online survey of 400 people ageing without children. The full survey can be found here. […]


  4. Terri Evans says:

    I am so relieved to find an organisation that is trying to tackle these issues and I understand the feelings of a generation who are now dealing with caring for their elderly. I have friends that have the same fear and in the same situation with no children and the one’s doing the elderly care. I also have a sibling but he lives the other side of the world with his own family and own health issues and I know he feels guilty being so far away to help, as we all get older. I would like to share my story. And hope it will help us all for the future.

    Am in my 57th year, female, childless, not by choice and single. After loosing my father 9 years ago am looking after my elderly mothers affairs and organising her care, she has macular degeneration, type 2 Diabetes and suffered a stroke 4 years ago just before her 90th Birthday bought on by stress/fear of coping on her own, luckily it was before I left to see my siblings child marry on the other side of the world, so I could be with her and help her. I am please to add she made a full recovery, a strong lady, although now she is frail. I have had a real battle and had to shout loud too, to organise her social care and keep it in place, with now 80% of it being taken away over the last 2 years with the social care cut backs, reducing their bills but increasing a elderly ladies costs. So for nine years I have been trying to take care of her affairs at a distance. I suffered a car accident 8 years ago and now this has developed into conic pain for me for which I need to have regular Physio and injections and rest. All the above has had an affect on my health, work, finances, and well-being. I have asked my self on many occasions, who will fight my battles and who will look after me in my old age, who will take care of me when I am sick, will I be safe from abuse and from receiving a 15 min rushed care call, being put to bed at 8pm on a summers evening and left their to 8 or 9 am because I cant manage the stairs on my own. Taken advantage of by my carers who see an opportunity to line their own pockets, some who may do care for the much-needed low income not necessary for the desire to care. “Yes I speak from experience”. Don’t get me wrong there are some lovely caring people thank god we are blessed with some who with out them I don’t know how I would have coped and they do it for the love of caring and I feel we need to speak up for them too. Care companies struggle to find good staffs so are running on low staffing levels for a growing demand and we are in what is known as the wealthier area of the country. We are on our 3 care provider due to cost cutting, imagine the stress that brings to the elderly, frail and ill who need routine and a familiar face or voice in my mothers case.

    Improved social care services for the elderly is needed NOW with more money invested in better pay for carers, bringing in better quality into social care for all that may need it, not just the private sector who profit. Will it be that older people without families who have to die alone and scared in numbers before they take better care of us in our communities? Single elderly needs without family require to be taken more seriously!! The charity sector cant pick up the pieces in some areas or the services just are not available within the volunteering sector in some communities for shopping and cleaning, it then cost the elderly money they should have to pay house hold bills and keep their homes repaired and warm in winter

    I have put my own life on hold several times to help my parents with their health issues over the years after it become difficult for them to continue to cope on their own. I felt I had to step up to help and keep my mum safe at home were she feels secure with all her things around her, that are familiar to her. Am at the point were I may have to move to look after her due to her increased needs, costs to me in just dropping everything when I am needed has taken its toll and general regular visiting to monitor all is safe and well with over 2 hours away on a busy M25 is no certainly no picnic.

    How do I now ensure my old age will be safe and secure. You may be thinking find my mum a home near me, but why would I wish to up root her from her home, she wishes not to be placed in care due to the stories she hears she is scared due to her eye sight and she does not want to be separated from her little dog. Care in the community was introduced to help people stay at home, now I see it becoming increasingly harder for it to be delivered, the clock is ticking in my view. So what will I have to look forward too in my old age as a single person with no children?
    Ps I am a dyslexic so sorry if some grammar mistakes.


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