Background: An increasingly ageing society together with concerns about sustainability of old-age benefits call for reforming the care structure of many western welfare states. However, finding an acceptable balance between the formal care provided by institutions and informal care provided by family members is a delicate policy choice with profound ethical implications. In this respect, literature on intergenerational familial relationships can offer insights to inform policymaking in this field and help resolve the ethical concerns that excessive reliance on informal caregiving might entail. Methods: In this contribution, we start by presenting – with Switzerland as a case study – the challenges of the current care structure and illustrate some of the ethical issues that reshaping the balance between formal and informal care raises. We then review and analyse available theoretical literature on intergenerational familial relationships and present three dimensions that underpin such relationships: ethical, theoretical and practical. Findings: Based on our analysis, we provide two recommendations to inform policymaking on how to support care needs of the elderly and set an ethically acceptable balance between formal and informal care when familial generations are involved.