I understand that about 12% of the UK population currently live alone; the number of single person households is apparently highest in those over 45 and the number of people living alone is expected to continue to increase over the next decade or so. This, of course, coincides with an expected increase in the number of people living with Parkinson’s.
It interests me because I live alone with Parkinson’s and I find it hard to access advice specific to my situation and yet if the number of people living alone with Parkinson’s mirrors the statistics for society in general, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, there are quite a few of us out there and we are an increasing population.
When I was diagnosed, the consultant asked me who I lived with; when I explained that I lived alone there was a moment of silence and then he moved swiftly on from any discussion of my home situation without comment. There were two chairs in his room, one for me and one for the person I had brought along for support I guess. The empty chair that I sat next to throughout the consultation has stayed in my mind ever since.
This pandemic has highlighted many things for many people and while I consider myself to be in a relatively fortunate position at the moment all things considered, for me it has really highlighted the difficulties faced by people living with long-term health conditions and their families and friends as well as the almost total lack of acknowledgement of the numbers of single people who fall within this category.
Any number of conferences and meetings I attend stress the importance of having a strong support network and quite rightly, the role of partners and family members who support a great many people living with Parkinson’s Disease is highlighted, but what about those of us who live alone?
As a result of the current situation, I’ve been addressing my future in a way that I have not done so before but I struggle to find any information as to how single people with Parkinson’s access support and services as the condition progresses. Of course there are definitely issues all round in terms of accessing support services and many couples are struggling but I feel like a particularly inconvenient truth at a time of constant cuts in terms of health and social care because the reality is that I don’t have anybody in my life who is going to pick up the role of ‘carer’ and I’m just wondering how I find advice for somebody in my position regarding planning for the future?