Report: Estonia's residents underestimate need for long-term care

A pensioner.
A pensioner. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia's residents underestimate the likelihood of needing long-term care after they retire, a report by the Riigikogu's Foresight Center shows.

The report shows around 50 percent of Estonia's residents over 65 will need long-term care services in the future.

"Estonia's aging population will increase the need for long-term care," Lenno Uusküla, head of research at the Foresight Center, said.

"Around 160,000-190,000 people need assistance with everyday coping and the number of people in need of help will grow by 26,000 by 2050."

Uusküla said that in around 50 percent of cases, the need for long-term care stems from age-related reasons while the other 50 percent of cases are attributable to a condition present from birth or resulting from an accident or illness.

Obstacles hindering everyday activities are more numerous among all age groups in Estonia compared with the European average. In 2020, 51 percent of Estonia's residents reported having a long-term condition, such as a chronic illness or health problem.

"According to the data obtained with the survey commissioned by the Foresight Center, just 7 percent estimated that their need for assistance in the future will be high and 23 percent that it will be average, whereas 70 percent either believed their need for assistance will be small or non-existent or could not assess their future need at all," Uusküla said. "This means that over two-thirds of people are not planning their need for assistance, that this issue is misguidedly deemed unimportant or that people have not been informed about it  to a sufficient degree."

The future of long-term care provision is one of the areas of research for the Foresight Center this year with the goal to find solutions for funding and covering long-term care needs in an aging society over the next 15 years.

The Foresight Center is a think tank at the Estonian parliament; its tasks include analyzing long-term developments in the society, identifying new trends and development avenues, and drafting development scenarios.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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