Changes in elderly care in Navarra, 20th century

Begoña Elizalde-San Miguel, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Jesús J. Sánchez-Barricarte, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

For centuries, Navarre was characterized by two different ways to organize elderly care. This difference was a result of two family systems that have co-existed since 15th century. In the North and Center of the territory, a non-divisible inheritance pattern involved the co-residence of the single heir with his parents and single relatives after marriage. Complex households, with three co-residing generations, were common and elderly care was, thus, secured. The south of the region developed a family system rather different. Here, the inheritance was divided among all offspring. Children would not reside with their aged parents after marriage. They would have to agree on different arrangements when elderly would become incapacitated, and usually they would remain living in separate houses. The 20th century brought a major socio-demographic transformation to this region from the north of Spain. In 1887, 5% of population was over 65 years; in 2001, this age group was 17%. Family systems evolved and habits for household formation changed: at the end of 19th century, complex households were 21% of total “houses”; they hardly reached 10% in 1996. Also, issues such as women’s general access to labour market or the decrease of the “universal heir” role have modified intra-family roles. This paper aims to analyze to what extent this evolution has challenged the way families organize elderly care. For centuries, responsibilities of each family member were clear. Decisions like who takes care of the parents, where and whom to live, etc… were defined by a family tradition that was socially accepted. Nowadays, elderly needs and family resources have changed. Knowing better what were the residential alternatives for elderly in the past will help understand what are the challenges families are currently facing to adapt to the new situation and how fast, if at all, traditional roles are changing.

Presented in Poster Session 1