Hall, K. (2011) Retirement migration, the other story: vulnerable, older British migrants in Spain. Paper presented to: UK Social Policy Association Conference (SPA 2011), University of Lincoln, 04-06 July 2011.
Over the last few decades, Spain has become a popular retirement destination for British nationals. Most retire abroad when they are healthy; however, happy and fulfilling retired lives in Spain can abruptly change when a person’s resources (bodily, economic and social) for independent living diminish. Therefore, the onset of old age can bring about severe vulnerability and the need for additional support becomes vital. This paper looks at the lived experiences of vulnerable, older members of the British community as they age in Spain, focusing on those who are in serious need of help and support. It draws on empirical data from a collaborative PhD study with Age Concern España, a British charity based in Spain who provide advice and support to older British people. Through a survey of enquiries to Age Concern España and narrative interviews, the research examined the challenges and crises faced as a result of ageing in Spain. These tend to be centred on a decline in health, the need for care, bereavement and insufficient financial resources. Whilst these are common difficulties faced by many older people, living in Spain brings additional challenges as language, culture and legal barriers often restrict access to support services. This paper presents the main areas of vulnerability facing older British people in Spain and the implications this has on UK, Spanish and EU policy. The findings of this study have been used to promote the needs of vulnerable older British people in Spain through a series of policy recommendations developed in collaboration with Age Concern England and Age Concern España which are detailed in this paper