Elder care looks different throughout the world. In most countries aging populations are increasing as health care and living conditions improve. Therefore, societies are having to examine the way in which they care for seniors and how to best meet the needs of the older adult population. Economic costs and productivity, health care provision and costs, cultural and ethnic differences, changes in the way societies view the elder, and politics all play a part in elder care throughout the world. Here are a few different ways in which senior citizens are cared for in different countries.
Western Nations: In the U.S. and many European countries there has been a great improvement over the last century in elder care options. Decades ago the chronically ill had been put into large and impersonal settings. However with improved economic conditions, health care for those who cannot care for themselves has greatly improved. There are now high quality assisted living facilities, independent living communities, Alzheimer’s care options, and even in home care providers.
Developing Nations: Institutional care for senior citizens is rare in developing nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In many of these countries the life expectancy is 20 to 40 years lower than that of the U.S. For example, South Africa has an average life expectancy of 49 years and Mozambique has one of 39 years. In developing nations larger families are typically the trend and care of the “elderly” is left in the hands of the family unit. Typically religious and non-profit organizations are the only institutional care available in most developing nations.
Japan: Japan currently has the highest life expectancy in the world. The older population is growing faster than in any other country. Family commitment to senior citizens is a strong tradition in Japan. However, society has been changing and now many older adults are living alone. The Japanese government is actively looking for ways to improve and increase elder care options and enrich the lifestyles of old people in their society.
China: China traditionally depends on families and the local community to provide care for the elderly. The government’s policy is to reinforce traditional customs. Hospital care is typically for only short term and acute care. With limited health and medical facilities in China, there is a huge dependency on the family and community to make sure the older adults are cared for.