With rising life expectancy, more people now reach an age where declining physical and mental health make them dependent on help from others. Most of this social care is currently provided by relatives, spouses and children in particular, mostly women.
The availability of informal social care by family members can be expected to decline, however, as people are having fewer children, who may also live further away from their elderly parents and be unable to provide intensive care. Only a few EU countries provide comprehensive social protection to cover the need for care in old age.
The EU promotes cooperation between EU countries in this field - through the open method of coordination - in particular on closing the gap between the supply and demand for long-term care by exploring how to extend or restore older people's autonomy and capacity to live independently.