Old Age Care: The Swedish Way

Agneta Kruse


Old age care will become an increasing task in all societies as population aging gives an increasing number of elderly that will need help with daily activities. In this article different means – and their costs – of old age care are discussed. There are three ways of organizing old age care, the family, the market and the state, each one with its pros and cons. Irrespective of form, old age care is expensive and due to aging costs will increase. Thus it is important to find forms that have both high quality and use resources efficiently. Population aging as well as migration, changing family patterns and changing economic structures pose challenges to old age care and will most probably induce changes in old types of care. There might be lessons to draw from other countries. The main focus of this article is on the Swedish way, with some minor references to German and Japanese ways. It is shown how the Swedish system has evolved from being mostly a responsibility of the family to today’s responsibility of the local public sector. It is tax financed and need of care is judged by local authority. Recently, privatization of providing old age care has obtained a footing, not financing though. Dissatisfaction with the care provided has lately increased the care given by family members

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