The British public are plagued by guilt for not being able to give enough time to their elderly relatives, with half of people (50%) saying they feel guilty for not making more time for older family members.
Following Jeremy Hunt’s comments last month that family members could do more to help elderly relatives, research released today by Anchor, found that more than three-quarters (78%) of people say that visiting their elderly relatives is a high priority however a quarter (24%) say they rarely manage to fulfil it.
The pressures of modern life are undoubtedly putting a strain on relationships with older relatives with 68 per cent of respondents saying that busy work, kids’ schedules, personal commitments and household chores have forced them to cancel visits. It seems that travel is also a contributing factor with more than a third (34%) saying that living too far away is the main reason for not visiting their elderly relatives.
Sadly, one in ten (12%) say that it’s either been a year or they can’t remember the last time they visited their closest elderly relative and almost a quarter (22%) has left it six months or more. A third (34%) visit once a week.
To help make it easier to stay in touch with their older relatives, two-fifths (41%) said that they have set them up to use email, social media and Skype. Almost a third (27%) have bought an elderly relative a mobile phone.
Anchor’s Chief Executive, Jane Ashcroft says: “We’re living in an ageing society and would all like to think that we’ll always be surrounded by loved ones. While it’s not always possible to grow old with family nearby, there are lots of options out there for people in need of companionship or care.
“People living in retirement housing often find that they are able to live independently but in a close-knit, thriving community, and in our care homes, we have a strong emphasis on arranging activities that people of all ages can enjoy. From Christmas parties to summer fetes and dancing competitions, we know that our residents enjoy inviting their loved ones to events that take place in their homes.”
Brits struggling to visit their own elderly relatives do recognise how important it is; 44 per cent admit that they would feel sad, lonely and un-important if their families didn’t come to visit them when they reach old age. Almost two-thirds (60%) would expect or want their younger relatives to visit them in old age with 44 per cent wanting them to visit at least once a week.
Broadcaster and grandmother Gloria Hunniford who helped to crown the winner of Anchor’s ‘Strictly Dancing’ competition earlier this month says: “I think it’s vital that family members visit and keep in touch with older relatives. Family is everything. Life is so fast and busy; I know it can be difficult for families to make the time, but even meeting up for lunch or a cup of tea and a chat with relatives who are retired or in a care home can make all the difference.
“I see my sons and grandchildren a lot, but as they grow older and become teenagers, their lives become busier, so it’s important that I tap into their lives and make the time we have together enjoyable.”
‘We’ve already started work on extending the model to other parts of the country and we believe it has the potential to radically improve the lives of many older people across the UK.’
Age UK Cornwall’s Tracey Roose said, ‘We are working together to remove the barriers between health, social care and the voluntary sector to improve the quality of life of people in Penwith.
‘We have delivered some great results together in Newquay and we want to build on that experience to involve more partners and more older people in the west of Cornwall.’
The pathway is now being scaled up to include 1000 patients in Cornwall. Age UK is hoping to expand the pathway to three other regions by March 2014.
As part of this programme, Age UK is also modelling a new approach to evidencing cashable savings that could be used to secure a Social Impact Bond (SIB).