38 essays penned by high profile authors present a picture of our ageing society that is unprepared and unwilling to respond to the new female demographic dividend. Many of the essays reveal that while women are living longer this does not necessarily imply a happy or healthy older life.
Included within the essays, Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, argues older women are disproportionately affected by inadequacies of care and support. In the UK, women account for two thirds of community care users over the age of 65, and three quarters of people in residential care.
She says: “Despite care having been on the feminist agenda for years, the issue of it in later life has remained shrouded from our viewpoint, as millions struggle in quiet crisis. Yet nowhere are the compound challenges of class, gender and age more evident and nowhere are older women more in need of a voice.”
Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the ILC-UK added:
“The debate on the future funding of social care is not an academic one. For millions of women, the decisions made by politicians over the next couple of years will have far reaching implications. Women must engage in the debate on social care funding if we are to get a solution which works for all.
It is also essential that the caring contributions of older women are not ignored. Future care reform must take account of and not disincentivise the informal care contribution of older women.”
Included within the 38 essays are pieces which explicitly consider how health and care systems must better respond to the needs of women. The essays also explore the need for a stronger focus on the health of older women, recognising for example that women are disproportionately affected by dementia.
Launching the compendium, ILC-UK announced it was establishing an Older Women’s Policy and Research Action Alliance to create a roadmap for future research and policy priorities.
The compendium is available to download from http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/has_the_sisterhood_forgotten_older_women The hashtag is #olderwomen
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