By 2050, will 25% of the population of Belgium be aged 65+. This change brings about an increasing demand for community care. So far, the family has been the main source of elderly care. But family care has its limitations. Social policies should be developed to support or substitute the family as to provide sustainable long-term care for the elderly in the community. The first step is to have a good knowledge of the determinants and the dynamics of elderly family care.
This thesis focuses on the care provided by the spouse and children and tries to answer 3 questions : Who is receiving family care ? What are the characteristics of the received care ? How do they evolve over time ?
The main findings are: First of all, the under-declaration of spousal care. To encounter this, the current terminology and the questions asked on care in surveys should be revised. In the conclusion, the term 'close support' is suggested as an alternative to 'family care'. Being more positive and inclusive, it would favour care declaration and allow the development of preventive policies. Second, the strong regional differences : Flemish were more likely to receive intensive and long-term family care and Brussels inhabitants were more likely to rely only on care services. This may be due to differences in elderly care policy orientations which also reflect cultural differences. Finally, the longitudinal approach highlights the ‘long-term’ aspect of family care, especially when the elderly is very old or if a child cares for a spouseless parent.