6 mins read
Many European countries are facing a future of an ageing society. This has arisen from a prolonged period of low fertility. To provide support for the elderly reliance is often placed on support from younger relatives and from friends. To understand more about how these support mechanisms work in the 21st Century the British Household Panel Survey which is an annual survey of around 5,500 households was used. This survey started in 1991 and follows a cohort of households over the years. In the survey some data has been collected on social network and social support variables. This data is examined for those aged over 65 years in order to investigate the degree of support available to the elderly. This support will be correlated to the physical and mental wellbeing of the respondent to ascertain its importance. How these relationships have changed with time is explored by comparing data from 1997 to 2007. It is argued that family based support will decline and more recognition of support from friends and the community is required. From this research recommendations are made to inform policy on how to provide support for the elderly.