Cut-backs in care affects women as care-receivers and care-givers

Cut-backs in care affects women as care-receivers and care-givers

There have been substantial reductions in the provision of care for older adults, with effects for both older adults and their families. Lena Dahlberg sums up the consequences of diminishing formal care services in Sweden on the capacity of older adults to age in dignity.

Sweden has a relatively comprehensive system of care for older adults, but the provision of formal care has not kept pace with the growth of the number of oldest old in the population.

A nationally representative study from Sweden of older adults (aged 77 years or older) showed that just over 30% of the respondents had a self-reported need of help with house cleaning and over 20% had a self-reported need of help with food shopping. These figures have been stable over time, that is, from 1992 to 2011. Over this period, there was a reduction in formal care (home help) regarding house cleaning and food shopping.

Women relied more on formal care than men did and were also less likely to have access to informal/family care to fill the gap by diminishing formal care. Many older women live alone; yet: people who live alone have less access to informal care and are most dependent on formal care. Consequently, a shift from formal to informal care affects women strongly also as caregivers, since women – as wives and daughters – stand for a large share of informal care.

With the social care crisis, we are failing our older people towards the end of their lives, while this is when they deserve more dignity and greater support. This is a matter of respecting human rights in old age.


Read also:

Our thematic page on ageism and social rights


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Reference: Dahlberg, L., Berndt, H., Lennartsson, C., & Schön, P. (2018). Receipt of formal and informal help with specific care tasks among older people living in their own home. National trends over two decades. Social Policy & Administration, 52(1), 91-110. doi:10.1111/spol.12295.


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