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Ageing at home, co-residence or institutionalisation? Preferred care and residential arrangements of older adults in Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2014

Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain.
Address for correspondence: Celia Fernández-Carro, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Campus UAB, E-2, 8193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain E-mail:


This paper examines the opinions of Spanish older people regarding the ideal living situation in later life – living in their own home, co-residing in a relative's home or institutionalisation – differentiating between two hypothetical situations: healthy ageing and frailty. Data are drawn from the Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales (Institute of Older People and Social Services; IMSERSO) survey Encuesta de Mayores 2010 (Older People Survey 2010), comprising 2,535 individuals aged 65 and over living in private dwellings. The results confirm that residential preferences vary depending on expected health conditions. Remaining in one's own home is preferred when older people foresee a healthy old age, whilst co-residence at a relative's home turns into the favoured solution if older people have to face some physical or cognitive limitation. The particularities of the Spanish context regarding family-oriented values about care responsibilities and the structural deficiency in the provision of formal support, in addition to other socio-demographic, psychological and attitudinal aspects, were explanatory factors of the lower desirability for ageing at home in the case of frailty. The findings question the uniform image of ‘ageing in place’ as a preference, inviting reflections on the need to distinguish between later-life stages and national contexts.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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