Article

In their own home, with family, or in residential care:

Which living arrangements and care do people prefer when facing dependency?

Celia Fernández Carro, Department of Sociology III, National University of Distance Education (UNED)

Where, how and by whom would the population in Spain prefer to be cared for? A growing preference for living and care arrangements that do not involve the family is confirmed. However, a significant discrepancy exists between people’s wishes and perceptions regarding their real options.
Key points
  • 1
       Options regarding the preferred living arrangements in cases of dependency point towards settings where the family is no longer the main caregiver.
  • 2
       Although the family continues to be considered the surest and most reliable caregiver, the role of public and private services is demanded more and better valued than in the past.
  • 3
       The real options of the current care model in Spain mean that the preferred living environment in ideal terms is not always considered the best in practice.
What living arrangements and care do people prefer when facing dependency according to age and gender?
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In 2014, remaining at home with an outside caregiver was the top option (36%), followed by living with family members (33%) and at residential homes or centres (31%). For people aged between 50 and 74 years, however, the least desired solution was living with a family member. In this group, residential homes for the elderly are valued more highly, especially among males (37%).

Many of the people in this age group are helping members of their social network in a practical, financial or emotional sense. This situation gives them first-hand awareness of the personal costs of caregiving and they have higher probabilities  of being inclined towards living arrangements and care that do not compromise their life projects nor those of their family members. Their preference is also related with a change in the view of responsibility for care among these generations.

Discrepancy between wishes and perceptions of real options

The real options offered by the current care model in Spain mean that the preferred environment for living in ideal terms is not always considered the best in practice. Thus, the same people respond differently when asked about their wishes or their perception of what is best in reality.

As an example, the majority of people who would choose their own home with outside help consider that living with the family is the solution that would best resolve their care needs at the current time, taking into account their real environment (58%).

The same occurs with people whose ideal environment would be a residential home. Among these, 51% consider that, in reality, the environment that would best resolve their needs would be the family.

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