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The invisible crisis of dependency in Chile

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dependency is a condition that afflicts 5% of the population over 18 years of age (according to data from the CASEN 2017 survey), a condition that generates the need for support from a third party to be able to perform basic day-to-day activities.

The problem will increase in the coming years given the aging of the population, as this brings with it an increase in the percentage of the population that has diseases and difficulties associated with this stage of life, which can lead them to a state of dependency.

, The invisible crisis of dependency in Chile
President Sebastián Piñera. (Photo internet reproduction)

Faced with this challenge, insurance and subsidies are a good first step to start promoting public policies to deal with dependency in Chile. Today there is little help for dependents and their families, and assistance varies depending mainly on the commune where they live.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Public Studies (CEP), it is estimated that about 40 percent of the communes contacted (the latter correspond to 87 percent of the total number of communes in the country) do not have a program specifically aimed at people in a situation of dependency.

Although the government proposal is a good start, there is an urgent need to do much more for several reasons. First, the insurance and subsidy would benefit only those over 65 years of age. One out of every five severely dependent persons does not belong to the elderly, and would not benefit from the proposed changes, according to CEP’s study “Dependent persons: who are they, who cares for them and what is the cost of assistance?”

In addition, dependency limits people’s possibilities of working, so that the families of dependents see their income diminished. Second, insurance and subsidies are limited to those who are severely dependent. In our study, we show that the percentage of mild and moderate dependents who receive help in the activities that require assistance is lower compared to severe dependents.

On the other hand, the amount of the subsidy for people who do not meet the insurance requirements, which would be around pesos $60,000 (US$82) and $80,000 per month, is far from the cost that families must incur if they want to hire a caregiver.

, The invisible crisis of dependency in Chile
Dependency will increase in the coming years given the aging of the population. (Photo internet reproduction)

According to the CEP study, approximately $200,000 (US$272) per month, on average, is required to replace the hours of care required by a dependent with the assistance of a nursing technician. These costs increase exponentially if a nurse is hired. Therefore, the amounts of the subsidy would not allow family members who assume the role of caregiver, who are mostly women, to leave this role.

A complementary policy is required to support family caregivers so that this work does not affect their participation in the labor market, their health, and their well-being.

Dependency is a condition that involves not only the dependent person but encompasses many aspects of the lives of the families living this reality. In short, public policies are needed to support dependency that goes beyond pensions.

Source: Diario Financiero

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