As with most countries in the world, Sweden’s population is rapidly ageing. Out of its 10.1 million residents, a significant 20% are aged 65 and above — that’s one in five persons! Furthermore, this number is not expected to decrease anytime soon; by 2040, it is projected to rise to 23%. Sweden is entering a future where one in four persons in the country will be considered an elderly person.

The ageing population in Sweden can be attributed to its high life expectancy and falling birth rates. Today, the life expectancies of Swedish males and females stand at 80 years and 84 years respectively. As the country continues to invest heavily in elderly care, these numbers are expected to increase in the years to come. This phenomenon is even further emphasised by its fertility rate gradually declines to 1.78 children per woman. While it is not among the lowest in the world, it is still below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

To cope with this demographic change, elderly care continues to be a key priority for the Swedish government and institutions.

Elderly care in Sweden

To understand elderly care in Sweden, we can look at the following key areas:

1. Largely funded by taxes

In Sweden, elderly care is largely funded by municipal taxes and government grants. In 2014, the total cost of elderly care in Sweden was SEK 109.2 billion (USD 12.7 billion, EUR 11.7 billion), and only 4 per cent of the cost was financed by patient charges. Healthcare costs paid by the elderly themselves are also subsidised by the government.

2. Swedish pension system

The pension system ensures that every person of elderly age in Sweden is guaranteed some form of payment as they come to the end of their working years. From the ages of 61 and 67, citizens can start to withdraw their pension.

This pension can come from several sources: the Swedish Pensions Agency (national retirement pension or national insurance), the employer (occupational pension) and the individual (private pension). For a person of elderly age with low or no income, their national retirement pension is also supplemented by a guarantee pension.

Source: The Swedish Pensions Agency

In 2014, the average national retirement pension was SEK 11,093 per month.

To learn more about the pension system in Sweden, visit The Swedish Pensions Agency.

3. Home care is on the rise

Since the introduction of the Ädel reform in 1992, the responsibility for elderly care and long-term care shifted from the central government to the local municipalities. Over the years, the decentralisation of elderly care has led to a reduction in hospitalisation of the elderly and has given rise to more home care services. In Sweden, anyone who so wishes has the chance to remain at home irrespective of illness or diminished capacity.

Today, 94% of the elderly over the age of 65 live at home and are given the opportunity to live an independent life, even if one needs supported assistance. If an older person needs assistance from a health care worker, they can apply for assistance from their local municipality. Home help services include shopping, cleaning, washing and personal hygiene to the elderly living at home but cannot cope on their own. There is also a growing trend towards home-delivery of ready-cooked meals.

4. National plan and strategy

In 2017, the Swedish government announced its intention to develop a long-term national quality plan for elderly care. The plan will aim to strengthen the development of equitable and gender-equal elderly care and ensure long-term quality and enhanced effectiveness in several strategically important areas. The starting points of the work are social equality, gender equality, security, participation and influence.

More recently, the government also adopted a national strategy for dementia care in the country where about 150,000 people live with dementia. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare was tasked with monitoring and managing strategic issues within this strategy and is expected to deliver its final report in June 2022. The report will further enable the government to adopt a more comprehensive approach to dementia care in the coming years.

If you wish to learn more about how dementia and elderly care is done in Sweden, send us a message at info@sci.se. We provide education and training in this area and arrange professional study visits to state-of-the-art Swedish elderly and dementia care facilities and institutions in Sweden too.

Useful links

This article is also published on our blog, where we bring you facts, tips and tricks for elderly and dementia care. Are you an informal caregiver or someone from the elderly care organisation? There will be something for you (at least in the very near future!)

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Swedish Care International (SCI) is an international active organization that develops, packages and exports Swedish elderly and dementia care. Our vision is to better dementia and elderly care by basing it upon the care philosophy of Stiftelsen Silviahemmet. SCI is active throughout various activities and platforms within dementia and elderly care. These areas, individually and together, create good opportunities for extending the provision of adequate care conditions for elderly patients, people with dementia and caregiving relatives around the world.