Does ageism play a role in the problems the elderly care have had during Corona in Sweden and what can be done to get better?

These are some of the issues addressed during the second day of the digital conference MIRAI 2.0 Research & Innovation Week 2021. Boo Johansson, Senior Professor of Geropsychology, and Ingmar Skoog, Professor in Psychiatry and Director of AgeCap, both at the University of Gothenburg, started one of the MIRAI 2.0 scientific session themes, Aging, with keynote lectures: Ageing within the age of a pandemic

Ageism, the assumption that people over a certain age function, think, and behave similarly, has played a role in Sweden’s pandemic strategy, says both Johansson and Skoog. During the first wave, people over 70 were suggested to isolate themselves, while people under 70 were assumed to be able to make responsible decisions without that many restrictions. Still many elderly got sick and died. 

50% of the deaths occurred among residents in retirement homes and 25% among people with home care. This was partly because they had contact with many different caregivers on rotating schedules. Routines and knowledge of how to deal with viruses and pandemics were lacking in many cases and cohort care should have been practiced more frequently to prevent spreading, says Ingmar Skoog. 

Boo Johansson concludes that it is not just about age and that there are many other aspects to also consider. There is a need not only to consider biological and medical perspectives but also psychological and social needs. It is important to find ways to maintain a safe and healthy everyday life during a pandemic without harming individual freedom.