The state, municipalities, and county councils have failed to provide the most ill among Sweden’s elderly with proper care and attention, wrote social affairs minister Göran Hägglund, along with Maria Larsson, Sweden’s minister for children and the elderly, in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Older people have the greatest healthcare needs, yet remain the most dissatisfied with the care they receive.
The current system lacks continuity, oversight and coordination and many elderly Swedes are forced to make return visits to the emergency room.
In addition, the elderly are given many different types of medication, which often leads to side effects that cause unnecessary suffering and the need for additional care, the two Christian Democrat ministers wrote.
“We have to ready ourselves for a greater number of people with several, coinciding illnesses reaching old age,” wrote Hägglund and Larsson.
“Older people, with wide-ranging needs for interventions from both municipalities’ geriatric care services and the county councils’ healthcare services, should, like other citizens, receive the health care and welfare they need.”
In order to alleviate the deficiencies in Sweden’s care for the elderly, the government has appointed Eva Nilsson Bågenholm, former chair of the Swedish Medical Association (Läkarförbundet), to serve as the country’s coordinator for elderly affairs.
The former health worker union chief will lead a social ministry working group which has been tasked with ensuring that the systems designed to provide for the care and welfare of Sweden’s elderly population work better.
According to the ministers, the most ill among Sweden’s elderly account for roughly 50 percent of the country’s health and welfare costs.
The government plans to devote 3.75 billion kronor ($550 million) over the next four years to improving care for the elderly.
“The goal is the get care and welfare in the form of home health services, geriatric care, local clinics and the healthcare system to work better together when it comes to the elderly,” the ministers wrote.