Unless necessary actions are taken to improve social care in the United Kingdom (UK), around two million people aged 40 and above are doomed to live their twilight years in solitude, a government think tank reports.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed Wednesday that the number of older people in Britain is expected to overshadow the number of family members able to provide unpaid help for the first time in 2017.
According to the report, an estimated 800,000 elderly people may be in need of care four years from now, with 20,000 of them left without a family to look after them.
"Overstretched services will struggle to provide extra care, with two-thirds of all health resources already devoted to older people and social care services facing a funding crisis. Adult children and partners will take on even greater caring responsibilities and more people, particularly women who outnumber men as carers by nearly two to one, are likely to have to give up work to do so," wrote Clare McNeil, IPPR senior research fellow, and Jack Hunter, IPPR researcher.
By 2030, the number of people aged 65 and up who do not have adult children supporting them will inflate to 2 million from 1.2 million recorded in 2012. A total of 230,000 elderly people who need over 20 hours a week of care are foreseen to live alone.
Reaching the retirement age may not be as exciting as it would be for the aged because they are likely to be one of the main providers of care as well. The number of older people caring for their fellow elderly may hit a dismal 90 percent by 2030.
When there is inadequate care coming from adult children, the elderly will either end up depending on other family members, friends and neighbors or they may have to resort to paid care or the National Health Service.
Should the elderly decide to avail home care services, they have to shell out £7,900 a year from £740 since 2009-10 for a 10-hour work plus five meals a week. Meanwhile, nursing homes now cost a whopping £36,000.
To curb the impending crisis in the nation's social care, IPPR urges the UK government to adopt models of linked care practiced in Germany, Japan, and Australia, where the elderly 'adopt' grandchildren from single parent families, in hopes that someone can look after them in their old age.
The strategy proved to be an effective method, as some 480 families and older people are living in harmony to date, with many of the young people going into adulthood still keeping in touch with their adoptive grandparents.
IPPR further recommends over-all changes in the post-war social care system of England such as forming "new neighborhood networks," providing an option of a "shared budget" for the community care to arrange collectively and care coordinators who will serve as a single local point of contact, and finally, stronger employment rights for the caregivers attending to the aged who need more than 20 hours of care a week.
In addition, the findings of IPPR may aid in the private discussions of the Labor party in the UK about how it can integrate social care and health services, and the party may also consider an earmarked extra spending, if found necessary.
"Action is long overdue, and reform needs to be faster and more wide-reaching if it is to make a difference to the increasing numbers of people who rely upon the state for help," Hunter added.