Contrary to commonly held perceptions, older age is not a period of inevitable decline, and most older people never need social work intervention, with only 15% of people over the age of 65 receiving social care support (Audit Commission, 2008). As people grow even older, however, their take-up of social work and social care support increases (Forder, 2008). It can be surmised that a person over the age of 85 is more likely to be in receipt of social care support than at any other time in their life. It is important, however, to put this statement into perspective, by noting that over 50% of people over the age of 85 are not in receipt of social care services (Phillips et al., 2006), with only 18% of people over 80 years of age living in residential care, a figure that rises to 28% for people over 90 years of age (Audit Commission, 2008).
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