07 March 2024

By 2050, the number of older people diagnosed with dementia in Sweden may have doubled compared to today. Many will remain at home, but providing medical and other care to everyone will be a big challenge. This year, a new research programme will be launched at Linköping University to find solutions for the future.

Anna Olaison, senior associate professor at the division of social work at Linköping University.
Anna Olaison, Senior Associate professor at the Division of social work. Jonas Roslund

“We believe that there are municipalities that have already found solutions and where there are good examples. We also hope to find ways to help making things even better, of course,” says Anna Olaison, senior associate professor at the Division of Social Work and project manager for the new research programme.

The number of older people over the age of 80 is expected to increase rapidly in Sweden over the coming decades. This also means that the number of people diagnosed with dementia will probably increase significantly. Today, between 130,000 and 150,000 people have this diagnosis. By 2050, there could be almost twice as many if forecasts come true.

This is a huge economic, medical and social challenge for the welfare society.

Listening to recipients and families

The responsibility for dementia care today lies with both municipalities and regions, but there is little knowledge about the exact nature of the cooperation between the two. Nor do we know much about what older persons receiving home care and their relatives think about their lives or what they would wish for.

The research programme at LiU has received almost SEK 24 million from Forte – the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare – to investigate how municipalities and regions actually work, with a focus on collaboration between home care, home health care and primary care. Perhaps there are already good examples for researchers to find across the country. One of the most important things, however, will be to listen to the recipients and their families.

Old man and woman sitting facing away from the camera. Photo credit aquaArts studio

“Families are already doing more than elder care providers. So if older people are to be able to remain at home, we must make sure that everyone’s voices are heard. Because this is also a disease that affects the relationship between couples very much, so you need to have the right support in different ways,” says Anna Olaison.

Results will be disseminated

The research programme known as DEM(H)CARE has received funding for seven years. It has an interdisciplinary approach with researchers from general medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, sociology, epidemiology and biostatistics, the Department of Social work and the Division of Ageing and Social Change.

The idea is that the research results will be disseminated to elder care, healthcare, politicians and organisations such as the Swedish Dementia Association and the Swedish Dementia Centre. The Swedish Dementia Association also provides support to and acts as a and sounding board for the research programme.

More research


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