Swedish elderly face rejection from nursing homes

Welfare collapse

Published 6 July 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Last year, nearly 3,000 Swedish elderly people had their applications for special care homes rejected.

Getting a place in a special nursing home when you get old is far from a given these days. Despite the fact that they are often over 90 years old, suffer from various diseases and ailments, and feel lonely and isolated, thousands of elderly people in Sweden are forced to live at home against their will.

Swedish tabloid Home & Rent (Hem & Hyra) has investigated how difficult it is today for many of them to get a place in one of the municipality’s special housing facilities, and how many are forced to stay in their houses or apartments even though they feel very bad about it and feel that they can no longer take care of themselves.

One such case is 93-year-old Ingrid Johansson in Sundsvall, who has applied to the municipality to be put on a waiting list for a special housing unit where there are others of her generation and the security of having care staff on site.

– I feel so far away from society. I miss being close, belonging… The spasms are getting worse and life is going in only one direction. I’m old, but I still want to feel that I’m of value to others, she explains.

“A decent standard of living”

Her application was rejected and she was instead offered extended home care to help her “achieve a reasonable standard of living”. An appeal didn’t help either, and the court told her to look for a new apartment on her own if she didn’t like her old one.

– So I should move to another apartment? That won’t solve anything. I’ll be just as lonely. And if things get worse, I will have to move again. I don’t understand how they think.

– They say I’m too healthy for special housing. But are you really when you feel mentally ill, anxious and insecure? Is the idea that I should stay here and be alone until I die? I don’t want that, she continues.

Home care is not community

Sig-Britt Olsson, 91 years old, lives a few miles to the west. She, too, has been denied a home, even though she is in constant pain, has lost sight in one eye, had one of her kidneys removed, and had bypass surgery.

– I see them at the shelter here, walking in groups and having coffee together. Having a meal with a stranger from the home care service sitting across from you is not exactly companionship, she explains.

According to the Social Services Act, all citizens are entitled to publicly funded care for the elderly, and a “reasonable standard of living” must be guaranteed, taking into account age, physical and mental well-being, among other things. At the same time, it is the municipalities that decide who needs care and what kind of care is appropriate.

3000 refusals

The review shows that both municipalities and administrative courts routinely conclude that the elderly can remain at home with the help of home care services – and that they are not allowed to move to special housing, even though that is what they themselves want and feel most comfortable in.

Last year alone, 2,998 Swedes over the age of 65 were denied a place in a special care home, and eight out of ten who appealed to a higher court were rejected again.

Court documents also show that even those suffering from hallucinations, severe dementia, wandering outdoors or who have stopped eating cannot be sure of getting a place. Often, it takes an appeal of a municipality’s denial to get help for even the sickest people.

Over the next 20 years, the number of Swedes over the age of 80 is expected to rise from the current 500,000 to nearly one million – making it even more difficult than it is today to find a place in a nursing home.

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