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Long-Term Care Needs in the Context of Poverty and Population Aging: the Case of Older Persons in Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the poorest and least healthy countries in Southeast Asia. As elsewhere in the region, population aging is occurring. Yet the government welfare and health systems have done little to address the long-term care (LTC) needs of the increasing number of older persons thus leaving families to cope on their own. Our study, based on the 2012 Myanmar Aging Survey, documents the LTC needs of persons aged 60 and older and how they are met within the context of the family. Nearly 40% of persons in their early 60s and 90% of those 80 and older reported at least one physical difficulty. Spouses and children constitute the mainstay of the financial and instrumental support of elderly including those with LTC needs. Nearly two-thirds of older persons reported receiving assistance with daily living activities. More than three quarters coreside with children, a living arrangement that in turn is strongly associated with receiving regular assistance in daily living. Daughters represent almost half and spouses, primarily wives, one-fourth of primary caregivers. Unmet need for care as well as inadequate care decline almost linearly with increased household wealth. Thus elderly in the poorest households are most likely to experience gaps in LTC. Given mounting concerns regarding health disparities among Myanmar's population, this pattern of inequality clearly needs to be recognized and addressed. This needs attention now rather than later given that reduced family size and increased migration pose additional challenges for family caregiving of frail elderly in the coming decades. 

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Journal article
Springer science & business media b.v.
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Journal Titles
Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
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