Taking care of a dependent elderly parent personally can lead to an emotional and physical burden that can psychologically weigh on children even after their death. This is confirmed by a research conducted by economists from the Cà Foscari University of Venice and the Universitè Paris Dauphine, published in Applied Economics Letters.
The effort required to follow up the parent in need of assistance – the researchers concluded – may have a link with the onset of symptoms of depression. Women, mainly involved in treatment, are the most affected. Depression tends to start in the last few months of life and peaks immediately after the parent’s death. The symptoms are not only related to the inevitable grief and grief, but also to the stress and efforts required especially in countries with an underdeveloped and funded social welfare system.
“The data confirm – comments Giacomo Pasini, professor of Econometrics at Cà Foscari and co-author of the study with Agar Brugiavini, Elena Bassoli and Eric Bosang – that children, especially women, must devote themselves totally and with great psychophysical effort to the parent when the public welfare system does not guarantee adequate assistance to non self-sufficient elderly ”.
The research group studied data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (Share), a survey that is following the health and aging conditions of a sample of European citizens over 50 years of age over time. Comparing the link between the death of a dependent mother and the depression of children across countries, research has shown that the impact is greatest where investment in public assistance is lower. Where services such as home care, nursing homes, hospices are scarce, family members are invested with greater weight and greater responsibility in the choices regarding the elderly near death. Keeping a non self-sufficient elderly person at home at all costs thinking she can benefit from it, therefore, has unsustainable economic and health costs for women, who typically take care of them.
“That it is not so much a cultural issue as it is linked to public spending policies – Pasini specifies – we see it in the data. There is a correspondence between the discomfort, even psychological, of the children who take care of their sick parents and the percentage of the gross domestic product dedicated to assistance to the elderly ”.
In the ranking of the most virtuous countries in the care of the elderly, which dedicate well over 2% of GDP to this item (2014 data), we find the Netherlands (2.95%), Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium. Germany, France and Austria invest between 1.5 and 1.8% of GDP. Italy is behind (0.94%), alongside the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain.
© All rights reserved