Care of the elderly

Last updated: 4 10 2018

Image Boken om Sverige
This material is from the book About Sweden.

When a person becomes older, they often need help with practical aspects of everyday life. In Sweden, older people who need support and help have a legal right to obtain this from society. While it may be more common in other countries for family and relatives to take care of older people, in Sweden it is often society that provides this support. The family is often still involved in the older person's life. Care of the elderly is governed by the Social Services Act and the Health and Medical Services Act.

The municipality or county council is responsible for all health and social care of the elderly, including contact with doctors and emergency medical care. This is organised in different ways in different parts of Sweden. In order to apply for elderly care initiatives via the municipality, you have to contact the unit in question at the municipality's social welfare department. An assistance administrator from the department investigates, assesses and then decides whether the person is entitled to social care and the extent of that entitlement.

The aim of care of the elderly is to make it possible for older people to live a quality, independent life in safety. Older people also get the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities in the company of other people.


Many older people want to continue living in their own home as long as possible and there is now a good chance that they will be able to do so thanks to support from society and various forms of adaptation to the home. The municipality can help by providing care and services that enable you to continue living in your own home. This is called a home-help service.

Staff from a home-help service help you by performing tasks such as cleaning, buying food, making the bed, and helping you to shower or shave. You can also get help in the evenings and at night. If you have an illness or injury, a nurse can come to change a bandage or help with medicines.

Many municipalities also have staff who help with simple repairs. This is sometimes called a handyman service. Staff from a handyman service can perform tasks such as hanging a picture or changing curtains. The aim is sometime to avoid an older person falling and injuring themselves.

If it feels unsafe to continue living at home, there are other housing options for older people.

Senior citizens housing and sheltered housing are housing that is adapted for older people, for example with low thresholds and extra wide lifts. Landlords usually require people to be at least 55 years old if they want to move into senior citizens housing and somewhat older for sheltered housing. No permission from the municipality is required to live in senior citizen's housing or sheltered housing. You buy or rent the accommodation yourself.

Service apartments are a type of special housing the municipality owns where older people can rent an apartment. Before moving into a service apartment, an assessment is made of the person's needs. In a service apartment, the older person can pay for help with cleaning, food preparation and the like.​

Old people's homes, also known as residential homes are homes that are part of the healthcare system for older people who have extensive health and social care requirements. In order to get a place in an old people's home, a person has to have major medical and social needs and require around-the-clock care.