Traditional family breakdown predicts lonely old-age for over-40s

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A new report has warned that around two million people over the age of 40 will endure chronic loneliness in their old age due to the breakdown of the traditional family structure.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has stated that there has been a huge decline in the number of pensioners who are forced to live in poverty, but many will face a bleak retirement.

The situation is so dire that this new report has made a suggestion that a scheme used by the Germans should be adopted. It involves the ‘adoption’ of single-parent children as grandchildren to older people who do not have children, or whose families live too far away for regular meetings.

The results indicate that the number of people over the age of 60 will increase dramatically from around five to twenty million by 2033. Of this number, around 10% will suffer from chronic loneliness.

The report states that the deterioration of extended families, longer life expectance and the increased number of older people living on their own makes it more difficult for older people to build and maintain strong connections and relationships to community life.

The current predictions are that almost two million people will be chronically lonely by 2033. This figure includes in excess of 800,000 people in their 80s and 90s who suffer with mobility problems which makes it difficult for them to remain active.

The IPPR has stated that not enough is being done in Britain to allow this fast-growing group of people to gain access to opportunities where they are able to sustain relationships and partake in activities that will give new meaning to their lives.

The institute states that this situation will have a major impact on the social care bill if action is not taken.

It has issued a warning that more older people will become state-dependent as they no longer have contact with family members who may have offered aid for them to lead independent lives.

The results predict that the number of family members able to offer unpaid assistance will be outnumbered by the number of people requiring aid by 2017. By 2030, the figures will increase to 230,000 people in England needing 20 hours per week of care not having access to relative for aid.

The report has stressed that not only are older people in need of care, they are also the main providers. The number of older people providing care for a spouse that is aging is set to increase by 90% by 2030.

This situation indicates that Britain should follow countries like Australia and Germany by building alternative care provisions for the future.

The state-supported scheme in Germany where childless people are encouraged to ‘adopt’ grandchildren from single parent families in the hope that they may assist them during old age, aids people in finding homes of children under the age 10. Many of these children may have lost contact with their own grandparents due to the distance between them.

Around 480 matches have already been made and some of the young people have kept in touch with their adoptive grandparents as they become adults.

Each community in Western Australia offer a dedicated ‘neighbourhood care co-ordinator’ who monitors those living alone.

Image Credit: Alex Krasavtsev

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