Health Secretary Calls for Public to Take Better Care of Elderly Relatives
Britain’s Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is calling for the public to take more responsibility for the care of elderly relatives. He warns that many elderly people are dying without their relatives even knowing they had been ill, thanks to the “atomised lives” most Britons now live.
Statists have shown that in 2011, there were 2,900 council-funded funerals where no relatives could be traced. My Hunt points out that that equates to around eight “lonely funerals” each day, half of which are for over-65s.
“Are we really saying these people had no living relatives or friends?” says Mr Hunt. “Or is it something sadder, namely that the busy, atomised lives we increasingly lead mean that too often we have become so distant from blood relatives that we don’t have any idea when they are dying?”
He stresses that local authority care and the NHS are unable to fully shoulder the burden of looking after the elderly, especially as the older population has grown larger than ever. He says that by the end of this parliament, Britain will have one million people over the age of 70, a third of them living alone.
“Family planning must be as much about care for older generations as planning for younger ones,” says Mr Hunt. “A wholesale repairing of the social contract so that children see their parents giving wonderful care to grandparents – and recognise that in time that will be their responsibility too. By looking at best practice from around the UK and the world, it will seek to answer the big question: what do we need to do as a society to support people who are caring now, and crucially, for the millions who will have a caring role in the future?”
Mr Hunt will be giving a speech to this effect to the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate, in which he will call for a new “national conversation” about how the elderly are looked after in Britain. He believes that everyone should be doing their part to ensure that elderly citizens do not die alone, having not received the care they deserved.