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Your Later Life Q4 2021

How can we support women in later life?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / wilpunt

Kate Horstead

Policy Advisor, Age International

Asma, 60, works 18-hours a day to care for her family but her constant struggle goes without recognition or support.


Asma, 60, from Ethiopia lives with 10 family members in a home consisting of one and a half rooms. She has worked most of her life, caring for her family and putting food on the table by washing other people’s clothes. Asma wakes at 5am to pray, fetches water, prepares breakfast for her family, spends the day doing household chores such as washing clothes, makes dinner and then finally goes to sleep at 11pm. The job is demanding and has become more difficult as she ages – but there aren’t many other options for older women in urban Ethiopia. 

Asma explains: “Putting food on the table is my everyday struggle, as our income is decreasing from time to time whilst the cost of living is increasing in an unimaginable way…most people in our area are dependent on washing clothes which creates strong competition among us. I feel hopelessness, it leaves me in constant fear.”

Negative stereotypes and assumptions are a barrier to older women’s access to decent work, savings, pensions and decision-making.

The exclusion of older women

Data and research often exclude older women like Asma, particularly those from the poorest countries. Older women are absent from policy and programmes that are designed to tackle gender equality, but fail to reach women past a certain age.

Negative stereotypes and assumptions are a barrier to older women’s access to decent work, savings, pensions and decision-making. Sometimes older women internalise these assumptions; it’s hard not to imagine you are useless when your contributions are made invisible and when you’re told you’re ‘too old’ to participate. All of these factors contribute to the silence around what it means to age as a woman in these contexts. Daily barriers that older women face are compounded by systemic inequalities and a lack of action from policy makers at all levels.

Older women matter

We spoke with older women, including Asma, and the discussions were rich and insightful. Most of all, they made clear the value of making space for older women’s voices, for their benefit but also the benefit of their households and communities.

It is essential that older women are supported to access decent work opportunities and pensions, to have more choice and control over their time and to have their voices heard in the processes that shape public policy. We have an opportunity to ensure older women are given the equal rights they deserve. Across the globe older women, especially in the poorest countries, are facing systemic failures and being let down daily by their governments and society, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

We’re urging the UK Government to meet the needs and rights of older women. Sign our petition via ageinternational.org.uk/petition

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Support is available to help with swallowing difficulties

Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you are having difficulties swallowing tablets as many common medicines are now available in alternative forms.


If you’re having trouble swallowing tablets and capsules, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies change and it becomes harder to perform certain functions.

Difficulty swallowing — otherwise known as dysphagia — isn’t solely associated with ageing and can be due to several conditions and causes. These include stroke, dementia, head and neck cancer or even a phobia of swallowing medication.

Many people over 60 have struggled to take solid medicines at some time.

Breaking stigma around geriatric health

Worryingly, some people will not take their medicines if they have difficulty swallowing them. Many people over 60 have struggled to take solid medicines at some time.

This can ultimately have a negative impact on their health, causing concern for the patient, their loved ones and carers. We need to break the stigma around talking about geriatric health, you are just as important as anyone else. This is a cause Rosemont Pharmaceuticals champion as an organisation.

Seeking advice and support

Don’t be embarrassed to have a conversation with your GP or local pharmacist about any difficulties you may face because they may be able to help.

For example, pharmacists want to do more to help patients and are increasing the clinical services they offer for their local communities. They often run national awareness campaigns, such as ‘Ask Your Pharmacist Week’, to encourage more people to use their pharmacies as a first port of call.

It is important that you take your medications correctly, as instructed by your GP or pharmacist, so they work effectively. Many people are unaware that a lot of common medicines are now available in alternative formats such as liquids, dispersible forms and mini tablets.

Rosemont have over 50 years’ experience in supporting patients with swallowing difficulties and the healthcare professionals who care for them. www.rosemontpharma.com


DTM347 November 2021

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