The future of informal care for the elderly
In the Netherlands strong arguments in favour of focusing more attention on the informal care provided by caregivers and volunteers have been put forward. Only then will it be possible to prevent professional health care from failing in the long term. But how much more can the informal caregivers give? The lion’s share of informal care is provided by caregivers who provide care because of a personal link with someone in their family, household or social network. Each year, 2.6 million people provide informal care for more than three months and/or eight hours per week. Many are already spending long hours doing this work. A Dutch study (SCP, 2010) shows the number of seriously or moderately stressed caregivers in the Netherlands has increased by 50% in seven years. In view of the demographic trends we will be faced with in the coming decades, of an increasing population of elderly people and declining population of young adults, these are not reassuring figures. What will the future bring us and what are possible solutions?
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