Basics social services

A young hand holds an older hand.
Picture credit: ©

Under the Long-Term Care Insurance Act, there are roughly 2.5 million people in need of long-term care in Germany. More than two-thirds of them are looked after at home. Most of the people requiring help (more than 80 percent) are cared for by members of the family. Even though people continue to be very willing to help relatives, ever-smaller families and ever-greater mobility are leading to a situation where these supporting services will in future no longer be available to the same extent (source: Federal Statistical Office, Long-Term Care Statistics 2011).

An extensive network of help for the elderly exists almost everywhere in Germany. For instance, various services and institutions have a diverse range of housekeeping offers that help to cope with daily tasks. Home care services come into the home to provide nursing care. In addition to which, many organisations with voluntary helpers offer their support when help is needed. The following pages give you an overview of the social services that can make it easier for you live in your own home longer in old age.

Before you start thinking about who might be suitable for providing help, nursing or support, you should first consider what you already need, or what you expect to need in the future. Also talk to relatives or other trusted persons about the matter. You may find the following key questions helpful in the process:

  • Do you need to be relieved of housework (e.g. cleaning, washing and ironing, preparing meals, etc.)?
  • Do you need support for individual activities (e.g. washing, bathing or showering, dressing/undressing, etc.)?
  • Could family members or other trusted persons possibly take on these jobs or help you with them?

Make your own notes to get a concrete overview of your need for help and care. Go through the course of a typical day in your head or, for example, keep notes for a week to record what kind of help you need, and when. Also think about the available services, such as a shopping service, accompaniment to the doctor, etc. At the same time, also give thought to how and where relatives and friends can be of assistance to you, now or in the future, and where professional help is more likely to be needed.


Do the “1-week test”: make a daily note of when you need how much help for which activities. Be frank and honest when “interviewing” yourself. If you’re not sure how to rate yourself, talk to people you trust and who can fully understand and appeciate the situation.

What help do I really need - PDF, 155 KB