Corona crisis hit the European countries at the beginning of 2020. This has particularly become problematic for those in need for care. While media attention mainly focused on the problematic situation of nursing home residents, a major part of care in Europe is provided to people at home. Home care is often done by cohabitating family members, but also by family members from outside the household or by paid service providers. Social distancing measures installed in almost all European countries might have impacted the possibility to provide help and care to others and to receive care from people outside the own household.
Against this background, we want to explore in a first step the variations by older people’s demography, socio-economic status and (mental) health-related indicators in the use of informal and formal (home) care/help within as well as from outside the household across Europe. We will use multinominal logistic regression models to analyse determinants for the utilization of informal and formal care/help in the latest wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) conducted in 2019 and 2020 until the suspension of fieldwork due to COVID-19. Our results will help to better understand the influencing factors of giving and receiving informal and formal care as well as the challenges we are facing with respect to population aging that has severe consequences on the provision of informal care to older persons in particular. We will discuss our results in relation to differences among countries at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is important to derive country-specific advises for policy makers and social organizations.
In a second step, we then focus on how care recipients living at home (the non-institutionalized) dealt with the situation using data from the SHARE COVID-19 survey. Did they have problems receiving the care they need? How did informal carers react? Did they stop going to the care recipients, or did they, on the contrary, intensify their visits to help with more tasks than usual, like shopping for groceries? To answer these questions, we will analyze country differences on corona-related changes in receiving help and care, in providing help and care, and in volunteering. Further, we will check whether care recipients showed special protective behavior: Did they reduce their physical contacts more than others did? Did they reduce going out or did they postpone doctor visits? It is especially interesting to analyze if such protective behavior will lead to adverse health consequences due to missed treatments or lack of physical activity.