The achievement of longer lives brings with it challenges. Thanks to the reduction of infectious diseases in many countries, this not only increases life expectancy but also means we're more likely to suffer chronic disease in later life. For example, dementia prevalence will rise considerably (see image).
This – and the general increase in elderly populations – means the need for long-term care is rising. Conversely, the availability of traditional 'informal' care provision, eg from family, is declining for many reasons:
- Falling birth rates: Birth rates have fallen substantially since the 1960s in most countries
- Increased intra and international migration: Young people are moving to other countries or from rural to urban areas
- More women in employment: Women enjoying higher rates of employment mean that the availability of a 'traditional' care source in many countries has fallen (see image)
- Increasing independence for older people: Thanks to pensions and more choice, older people are less reliant on family members in many societies
Modern communications technology means there are examples of people living in a different country ensuring their loved ones 'back home' receive care ( http://jfi.sagepub.com/content/21/2/205.short).
Sometimes less informal care is seen as a 'decline' in traditional values. But does caring always mean providing the care yourself? What other approaches are there to providing care as well as demonstrating that we do care?
Category: Funding longer lives: Long-term care, Social contract