Caring for the elderly in the Victorian Era.

As a society we are worried about how we are going to care for our elderly and also what care we shall receive when it happens to us. It is a reality that we all have to face at some point. In our modern age we have provision for the elderly that is unprecedented. There are care homes, pensions both public and private, care assistants to enable assisted living, discounts on products and financial services designed specifically for the over 65. There are also special places where similarly aged groups can live together in a community such as that offered by Park Homes Gloucester. Why not check out http://www.parkhomelife.com/park_orchardtwigworth.aspx to get an idea. What was it like before in an earlier age? We like to think of the Victorian era as being a golden time as the British Empire was dominant and Britain was a rich global power. One of the indicators of a society is how it treats its people. What was the outlook for the elderly back then?

Image Credit

The short answer to that is it was bleak. To dispel something from the beginning, over half of the population over the age of 65 were still working. Many would be simply pleased to get to that age, but they would still be expected to work on into their 80’s and even there 90’s. This was especially true for mine workers, rural farm workers and domestic staff in the big houses. It was possible for someone to begin working at the age of 6 and remain employed, if they did not succumb to malnutrition, debilitating illness from the industry they worked in, industrial accidents and simple effects of old age then the saying “work till you drop” was a reality. Your working life was almost cradle to grave. Saving was virtually impossible.

Image Credit

The thought of retirement was a concept that was not even a possibility. The older members of the family still needed to provided income to the household for it to survive. If they were alone then they had to look to provide for themselves. In some occupations board and lodgings were provided, at a price, but the elderly was valued more for their experience and wisdom possible more than we do today. However, the state was not interested in them, society viewed them as a burden. The only alternative if they could no longer work was the workhouse I they became incapacitated then they were doomed.