Demographic Ageing of Population and Care for the Elderly in Croatia
; Udruga Pragma, Zagreb, Hrvatska
Ana Štambuk ; Studijski centar socijalnog rada Pravnog fakulteta u Zagrebu, Hrvatska
Silvia Rusac ; Studijski centar socijalnog rada Pravnog fakulteta u Zagrebu; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Mostaru
Demographic changes, primarily the ageing of the population, are the most important trends that have been at work for the last few decades in almost all developed countries. Croatia is no exception. With a large share of the elderly population, the one of 17.7%, which is one of the largest in Europe, Croatia is ranked among the world top ten countries with the oldest population. This phenomenon is caused by the increase in quality of life and general lifespan of people, and by the continuing decline in fertility rate. Demographic projections show that in the next thirty years ageing and depopulation will continue to be the main feature of the Croatian population. In addition to demographic, there are numerous economic and social as well as other consequences of such indicators.
Traditional family, which used to take care for the elderly members of the community most, now has almost fallen apart. A part of its role has been taken on by the institutions. Institutional housing of the elderly, as the dominant form of care for seniors, is often the only alternative. In recent years, various forms of non-institutional care have been gaining a more significant role (gerontological centres, foster care, programmes for intergenerational solidarity). Non-institutional care for elderly and disabled people has many advantages compared to placement in institutions, enabling older people to stay longer in their own homes as well as meet the specific needs of the local community. Croatia, however, has not developed an adequate system of care for the elderly. There have been major problems and challenges in the actual implementation and enforcement of the adopted laws and norms. Contemporary measures and trends of social policy aim at raising non-institutional forms of care in local communities, and developing a network of care for the elderly targeted to individual needs of the individual. Therefore, it is necessary to reform the traditional forms of care for the elderly, to expand existing programmes and implement a new scheme of social protection in the area of care for the elderly, i.e, to get closer to the concept of active ageing and holistic approach to the planning and delivery of social services.
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