Different Elderly Care Systems Around the World

Taking a look of the different types of senior care systems around the world

A society is measured by how it cares for its elderly 

Elderly care is an extremely important and pressing topic lately. Different countries have a different approach to this important matter. Let’s take a look at some of the many different types of senior care systems around the world. 

Staggered care systems

The United Kingdom has applied the staggered care system which means that the elderly are gradually getting more help as they get on in years. The system covers everything from help with daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning to medical support from trained carers which either visit the elder person each day or even live with him, all the way to going into a nursing home. It is interesting to note that even in the borders of the UK itself there are some differences regarding their elderly care system. For example, the home care for elders above 75 years is free in Northern Ireland. And in Scotland it is free for elders over 65 years if it is assessed that they need help with daily tasks such as bathing, getting dressed, preparing food and so on. 

Publicly funded care systems

In Belgium a big part of elderly care is funded publicly by taxes. Moreover, people in Belgium normally go above and beyond to guarantee that their elderly relatives can remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible. Belgium also offers “service flats” for elders who want to live independently but still have access to assisted living, home help services and cooked meals if they decide they need them.

“Kangaroo housing” is another initiative offered by Belgium. That is elders living in the same house but on different floors with immigrant families. The idea is that the family will help the elder if he needs it. Such a project was undertaken in the Belgian district of Molenbeek where 25 % of the population are elders and 60% – immigrants. This project can benefit both parties since it will improve their sense of belonging in the community and their general well-being.

Cohabiting care systems

In countries like Germany the cohabiting care system means that elders can live together in community apartments so that they have more independence and the chance to socialize. Germany also has “multigeneration” centers which normally consist of a kindergarten, a social center for elders and a place where young families can stop by for socializing or support. The elders can socialize with children by singing songs, playing or telling stories. 

Private care systems

The care system in the USA is private for the most part. For example, there is a program called Medicaid which help elders with their medical expenses including some present of the care in the nursing home. If an elder wants to move to a nursing home that is often financed by private healthcare too. A survey by the American Association of Retired Persons states that almost 90% of elders say that they would like to remain in their homes. Private care insurance helps with that since it offers pay for home help like cooking and cleaning. According to the survey only 4% of the elderly would prefer to move to a relative’s home. However, 75% of the adult children of these elders are worried about their parents and their future options. It is reported that care for elders costs their adult children yearly between $7 000 and $14 000.

Family care systems

The system for elderly care in Italy is completely different. Elderly care is most often a responsibility of the family so it’s no surprise that nursing homes aren’t that popular since less than 2% of elders use their services. If the elder person has no family, then the Italian institutions will step up.
In Japan it is not uncommon for several generations of one family to live under one roof. The elders are respected and their word is law, they normally help with daily tasks like taking care of the kids or cooking meals. It is considered that this tradition is amongst the many reasons that elders in Japan live longer than in any other country in the world.
From the cohabited apartments in Germany to the private healthcare in the USA, we can see how much care systems differ around the world. You may even start to wonder what the future holds for the aging population. There are some places in the world with innovative concepts such as elderly-friendly supermarkets and even whole villages for people with dementia. With the development of technologies and the progressive aging of the population the innovative approaches that will be taken by different countries are yet to come.

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