In Europe demographic numbers are projecting that by 2050 people over the age of 65 will make up one-third of the population in the EU. All of the countries are currently researching how to reduce health care and retirement costs.
Care for the elderly is being transformed as adult children with demanding jobs are either less inclined or simply unable to take care of their aging parents. Even among the tight-knit families in the Mediterranean countries, seniors want to have more independence than they would have living with their adult children.
Traditionally, this elder segment of the population in Spain would move in with family or else would need to check into hospital-like residences run by the nuns. Now a days an elderly Spanish citizen has the pick of more than 5,000 nursing homes. And, within a few years, Spanish seniors will be able to rent or buy an apartment in a planned retirement resort offering activities, trips and physical therapy. In the next five years building will be complete on continuous care communities along the Spanish coasts that will feature shops, a theater and 24-hour security. Another option will be to remain in their own homes. Empirica, a consulting firm in Bonn is working on technology for assisted living. Some of their products are fall-detecting sensors and robot nurses.
In Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands only 1 of 25 elderly people live with their adult children.
In Norway at least three cities have opened elder care residences in the south of Spain where the weather is warmer and the cost of property is much cheaper.
Denmark’s latest trend is the do-it-yourself retirement community. Friends or groups of like-minded people create their own villages or apartment complexes. Everyone has their own homes, but they share dining areas, gardens and craft workshops. Care services, when needed, are hired collectively.
In the Netherlands the government gives dependent seniors a “care budget” to use for their private services instead of going to an institution. Last year 85,000 people selected the budget and it was a tremendous savings over what nursing home care would cost.
In other Northern European countries most of the elderly are cared for by the state, regardless of their ability to pay. But, in general, governments are trying to help seniors to stay out of costly state-backed institutions.