Bojana Dimitrijevic

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PERIODICS

FROM THE INFORMAL TOWARDS THE FORMAL-THE ROLE OF FAMILIYIN THE LONG-TERM SUPPORT SYSTEM

Fast socio-economic development brings about numerous changes in everyday functioning in the life of an individual, also reflecting on the concept of inter-generation solidarity. Longer life expectancy and constant prolongation of minimum retirement agesignificantly diminish the modern family's ability to provide long-term support for their oldest members, especially with the lack of support by the wider community. The results of recent research show that a family member giving long-term support to an elderly person faces numerous challenges. The most common ones are chronic fatigue, high stress level, high expenses, overall health deterioration, and inability to synchronize the support and professional obligations. At the same time, longer support for the elderly provided by informal caretakers, such as relatives and family members, is often the only source of support the elderly can get. All these factors have many negative consequences on the functioning of those giving long-term support to their elderly relatives. This could even lead to them facing some form of social isolation and/or the burnout syndrome. According to the institutional theory, simultaneously using the formal and the informal network in the long-term support for the elderly would lead to the reduction of the burden on family members. Unfortunately, although the current Social Welfare Law prescribes a host of community services for the elderly, both on the national and the local level, the empirical results show that these are not on the satisfactory level in Serbia. To support this, it is a fact that although domestic household aid for the elderly is one of the most developed services in the community (it was available in 122 local communities in 2015), it is now available for a mere 1.1% of those older than 65 living in Serbia. It is important to take into account that this service is only available for the elderly living alone, with no working capable household members to give them everyday support. At the same time, the necessity for elderly day care centers is not yet recognized by local communities, and its economic sustainability is often questioned. All these factors clearly show there are minimal chancesfor the simultaneous application of the form al and the informal support network in long-term care for the elderly. This is why one of the key challenges for the modern social welfare system in Serbia is the necessity of further development of different community services forthe elderly who need long-term support. These would encouragethem to stay in their natural surroundings as long as possible, without the risk of becoming a burden for other household members by not going to retirement homes.

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