The Elderly And The Family
The family continues to be very important for the Greek society. Generally, the structure of the Greek family shows a change from the extended family to the nuclear family unit, but close relationships between the two types of family units exist. The younger people respect their elders and still accept them in certain roles. The old male is the connecting bond between the younger people who have left the village in search of better circumstances and those who remain. Beyond this psychological role, he acts as supervisor of the family's wealth in the village. How frequently children visit their parents depends on where they have moved. Nevertheless, because they do not maintain as much close contact as before, parental influence inevitably declines, and with it the influence of the traditional extended family. As a result, parents are left with a feeling of emptiness.
The transition from the extended family to the nuclear family is more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas. In the nuclear family (the couple and their children, if any), the status of elderly is important as they provide help to the young couple and vice versa. From an economic point of view, life seems better for the elderly in the urban areas, but children still help their parents since pensions are usually insufficient. The medical care offered is also better in the urban areas than in rural ones. Nevertheless, the children, if necessary, take care of their old parents at all stages of illness.
Although the old parents usually live separately from the young couple, the two pairs retain a close relationship. They visit each other often and both take part in family celebrations and festive lunches. In consequence, the elderly people do not suffer from loneliness. Also, the role of the grandmother is extremely important in urban areas. As more women are employed outside the home, related problems have emerged. One of the biggest problems is the shortage of kindergartens, which in turn creates a new role for the grandmother, that of care provider. Many working mothers leave their children in the care of the grandmother.
In conclusion, the customary family care of the elderly is still strong, a situation explained by the traditions, customs, and ethics of Greek people. The elderly must feel that they are still useful and active members of society (Teperoglou 1980).