As the population of Europe grows older, the problem of dependence is becoming an important issue. Can we predict the care needs of dependent older adults over the medium and long term? And, in particular, how will the burden of care be shared between family and professional carers? In this article, these questions are examined for nine European countries by projecting the future evolution – up to 2030 – of demographic trends among older adults that are already known (number of children), or largely predictable
(marital status, parenthood, widowhood, etc.). Of course, the prevalence of dependence in years to come will be largely determined by the future health status of older people. Yet the
demographic projections also indicate that the number of elders who have children and who survive longer with their partner will increase faster than the older population as a whole. Beyond its implications in terms of psychological and social support for older
people, this factor should be taken into account when defining future care policies for the dependent population.