Third age care in Greece

Few individuals or families do not face the practical, ethical and emotional dilemmas that arise from the need of taking care of a vulnerable or elderly person. Population ageing and the care of the elderly, “weak and dependent” persons, do concern a lot European Member states about the economic costs for social care, and especially concern those who plan and implement social protection programs at the national and international level ( Kottaridi, 2007, p 158).

Care of the elderly within the framework of the family, seeks to justify reduced public spending. At the same time, it is reaffirmed the intergenerational solidarity (Teperoglou, 2004), the responsibility of younger generations towards their elderly parents. In some European countries (Kottaridi, 2007, p 161) approved benefits and tax relief is established for families caring for their older members. However, it is known that in Greece there is no financial support to families caring for their elderly members. Studies like that of Pitsiou (1986, see Kottaridi, 2007, p 158), highlight the importance of maintaining family ties for the good mental and physical health and wellbeing of the elderly.

However, the need for dedicated care of the elderly at home by the family members, and most commonly from the women often when they are on their productive age, intensify their inability to access the labor market and hence increase the rates of female unemployment. At the same time, the increase in the average ageing rates, the declining birth rate and the change of lifestyle, which also provokes internal migration of younger generations from rural areas to the cities, lead many mountainous and rural municipalities in the country in population decline and economic tabefaction.

Several municipalities in the province are mainly inhabited by elderly people. Often the elderly are living alone, alienated from younger members of their family (Teperoglou, 2004) and therefore need support and protection from the state.The first program developed under the new concepts was the Open Care Centres for the Elderly (KAPI) in 1980. It is proven that the long presence of the Greek KAPI had a positive impact on the daily lives of the elderly. The 1990’s a focus has been given on family policies, since degradation phenomena emerged in the institution of the family. At the same time, after been successfully tested, the “Help at Home” project for elderly people without family or staying away from it, has been applied in order to provide care at home for elderly people, especially the weak and lonely, and to improve the quality of their lives by preserving for as much as possible their autonomy and independence.

Based on the above axes, another new institution is developing, the Day Care Centres for the Elderly, which will contribute to the harmonization of family and working life for family members, especially working women, who are charged with the care of the non autonomous family members. Day Care Centres are small structures providing daily accommodation and function so as to adequately cover the working hours of family members.

Regarding the Private Nonprofit Sector, there are 57 units for the care of the elderly. These agencies are private entities base on the revenues from the pension funds (medical expenses), although many of them are significantly funded from the state budget too.

For the private profit sector, there are no complete and accurate data, but rough estimates of the number of beneficiaries aged 65 years and older is estimated at about 3200 people. The fee for the services of these units is not covered by the insurance funds of the elderly people and it is entirely based on the financial capability of the beneficiaries.

The growing cost of the social care for the ageing population is not a matter of easy conclusions regarding the upcoming trial of social protection systems under the precondition that they promote healthy aging and independence of older people, and create opportunities for further improving of the quality of life of the elderly , while reducing costs for hospital or residential care. However, the increasing number of elderly people, especially of the very old ones, leads to an increase in demand for services and care and in prolongation of care time. Under these circum stances, the overall social care system should first be developed rapidly to meet the demand for services, then to further progress in such a way as to limit the increase of dependency and promote healthy aging, while also preventing accidents and providing rehabilitation treatment immediately.

Within the scope of responsibility for the maintaining, upgrading and modernization of the welfare state, the Greek government is trying to reform, improve quality and quantity, and finally coordinate social care. The goal is to provide social care to elderly people who need it and should be under equal, but simultaneously active protection and support in order to be included in social and economic activities and to avoid the phenomenon of social exclusion.


Kottaridi C., 2007, �The elder and the family: Moral and ethical issues”, in the social portrait of Greece, 2006, Athens, NCSR

Teperoglou A., 2004, �The old man and his family” in Mousourou Stratigaki L. and M. (ed.), Issues of family policy, theoretical references, KEKMOKOP, Athens, Gutenberg

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