The form of elder care provided varies greatly among countries and is changing rapidly. Even within the same country, regional differences exist with respect to the care for the elderly. Traditionally elder care has been the responsibility of family members and was provided within the extended family home. Increasingly in modern societies, elder care is now being provided by state or charitable institutions.
The reasons for this change include decreasing family size, the greater life expectancy of elderly people, the geographical dispersion of families, and the tendency for women to be educated and work outside the home. Although these changes have affected European and North American countries first, it is now increasingly affecting Asian countries also. In most western countries, elder care facilities are freestanding. They may also be part of a continuing-care retirement community, seniors apartment complex, or wing of a nursing home. Ownership and operations of these facilities vary also. In the United States, most of the large multi-facility providers are publicly owned and managed as for-profit businesses. There are exceptions; the largest operator in the US is the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, a not-for-profit organization that manages 6,531 beds in 22 states, according to a 1995 study by the American Health Care Association. The sentiment “Respect Your Elders” is not entirely the same across various cultures. Many countries have a sense of indebtedness for their seniors, but regrettably ageism is existing in some cultures.
Check out this column on how different cultures view their elders: http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/3918/4012970/NursingTools/ch23_CultViewElders_407.pdf
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