Home Alone: “Aging in place” leaves Swedish seniors lonely

Loneliness for Swedish seniors receiving elderly care at home averages just over 50%, the latest annual study by Socialstyrelsen shows

Roughly 90.000 seniors from various regions in Sweden participated in a survey on how they assess the elderly care they receive at home.

The data on loneliness has remained almost unchanged within the last three years.

Explore the map using your mouse. Zoom in/out, click and hold to drag. Hoover over your municipality to see the percentage of loneliness.


The data shows that some municipalities are having more difficulties with senior loneliness than others. In regions like Torsby, located just outside of Gothenburg, over 70% of seniors receiving elderly homecare responded that they feel lonely. Further north where Nordmaling is located the number is significantly lower. The study shows that 35% of the seniors feel lonely in this municipality.

Aging in Place

Helle Wijk, expert in eldercare from the University of Gothenburg, believes that “Aging in place” is the cause.

The phenomenon refers to the current trend of giving seniors the possibility to live and age independently in their own homes instead of being placed in retirement homes.

Helle notes that this independence comes at a price.

Tackling Loneliness

Mirja, 75, regularly visits “Verket” in Gothenburg, a place for seniors and young people to meet up and connect. She believes that relatives can be a reason to why seniors feel lonely.

“It is especially difficult when you don’t have family nearby.”

Mirja believes that seniors must walk out of their conform zone, if they want to get rid of their loneliness.

“It is difficult in the beginning, but it depends whether one goes out and has contact with new people and gets involved in activities.”

She admits that it can be difficult for the individual to tackle their own loneliness.

“I do understand it is a problem for lots of people. There are many who live alone, and it can be very difficult for them. I can tell that it is difficult for most people,” she ends.

Difficult to reach everyone

To foster new relationships between seniors, Marina Byberg, employee at “Verket”, organize group activities for the elderly. Different card games such as Bridge or Canasta, create a platform for the seniors to socialize.

Even with these social initiatives, Marina still thinks that some seniors get left behind.

“There are many people at home that we are trying to reach to encourage them to come and join us in some activities.”

By Nadine, Justus and Lasse Sørensen

Photo and video credits: ‘Old man walking’ & ‘Old people sitting on a bench’ by Pixabay