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Elderly care sector struggles to keep up with Brussels' ageing population

13:24 11/02/2023

Elderly people living in Brussels are more likely to end their days in aged care facilities than those across the rest of Belgium, due in part to lack of social support and a rental market increasingly hostile to people living on fixed incomes.

A study released by the Brussels Region Health and Social Observatory has found that the proportion of elderly people living in Brussels has doubled over the past 10 years, with 15% of people in the capital now more than 65 years old.

Seniors in Brussels are also more likely to be economically fragile than those outside the capital, posing further challenges for Brussel’s elderly are sector.

Although the largest increases in the proportion of seniors was in working-class neighbourhoods such as Saint-Josse, Molenbeek and Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, most nursing and residential care homes continue to be found elsewhere in the Brussels region: mainly in Evere, Anderlecht and Jette.

“The location of the rest homes does not quite correspond to the actual distribution of the elderly,” the study noted. “In some poor municipalities in the region, the monthly price is more than €1,700. These high prices exceed the amount of pensions and the lowest social assistance benefits.”

The study also showed the changing demographics of Brussels’ ageing population, with one in three seniors in the capital not having Belgian nationality.

“In the 1970s, the over-65s still formed a relatively homogeneous population group and were mostly born in Belgium,” the report stated. “Today, a growing proportion of the elderly in Brussels are pensioners, formerly immigrant workers.”

Representatives from the elderly care sector have called for alternative care structures such as semi-residential care, day-care centres and intergenerational housing.

Written by Paul Millar