Why we must pay attention to elderly dependency

 October 9, 2013

The future welfare of our elderly citizens will be decided today, and their quality of life depends on the decisions we make now. This is just one point we are encouraged to reflect upon by a study carried out by the AstraZeneca Foundation, in collaboration with the European University, related to forecasts in the field of socio-healthcare; which signals the importance of foresight in minimizing certain risks.

Increasing life expectancy and the natural deterioration of health that comes with old-age, could put the health service on the verge of disaster unless precautionary measures are taken. The study “Predictive analysis and socio-healthcare scenarios in Spain: Horizon 2022″, published in the journal News Tercera Edad, depicts a future in which dependent people’s health will have deteriorated considerably, whilst also highlighting the growing social awareness of the problem in the paradigmatic case of Spain.

According to the data put forth, the main difficulties faced by the elderly segment of the population are fundamentally related to their day-to-day lives, in which their lack of independence becomes more evident. In turn, this leads us to consider the role of social services and medical care, which should be coordinated in order to provide the best possible solution to elderly-dependent citizens and their families. Along these lines, the risk of getting into financial difficulties, which could undermine the availability of such services, is one of the issues that most concerns the general public. Nonetheless, this widespread concern is not reflected in the steps being taken to face a potential future situation of dependency.

Those responsible for this report, Julio Sánchez Fierro and José María Sansegundo, identify the current profile type of a dependent person as being a female over the age of eighty, with a low level of studies, who has 900€ a month at her disposal to cover the financial costs generated by her care, generally associated with her lack of mobility. Although over half receive some other form of help, 9 out of 10 elderly-dependent people receive the support of a family member, making it necessary to also take the wellbeing of relatives into account.

With our sights set on the future, it seems vital to continue paying attention to care services, particularly since the people currently in a situation of dependence consider the help they receive to be very necessary. Moreover, resources should be allocated to the development of technological systems which improve the quality of life of both the elderly and their relatives, whilst facilitating the work of socio-healthcare professionals by bringing greater efficiency, speed of response and service quality. In short, a problem of this magnitude does not allow for ad hoc solutions.