Student Journal of Health Sciences, vol 4 2001 no 2


Old Age With Two Cultures - A Qualitative Study of Elderly Chileans and Yugoslavs and Their Expectations Concerning Growing Old in Sweden


Authors: Pontvik Refsbäck S, Stigh L, Social Care Programme, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköpings universitet, Sweden
Tutor:   Anbäcken E-M, PhD, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköpings universitet, Sweden.

The Swedish National Statistics Office predicts that in 2010 there will be more than 200,000 foreign-born individuals in Sweden over the age of 65 years. Since the mid 1980s a debate has been underway concerning whether immigrants have a need for special care, and if so, who should meet this need.

The aim of this study was to investigate what elderly Chileans and Yugoslavs think about growing old in Sweden. We also wanted to study what they think about their needs for care when they become older and how they would like these needs to be met.

We conducted a qualitative study including a focus group interview of four Chileans and individual interviews with four Yugoslavs and three Chileans. In the theoretical frame of reference the modernisation theory and the role theory are considered.

The results show that both the Chilean and the Yugoslav respondents define the need for care as purely physical and medical care. Their expectations about growing old in Sweden are governed by many different factors including traditions in their native countries and family relationships. Special ethnic solutions are only requested by respondents with poor Swedish language skills. In the final discussion we point out three factors we think influence the way in which elderly immigrants want and need to have their needs for assistance met. These factors are: 1) the reason for immigrating to Sweden, 2) number of years in Sweden, 3) the command they have of the Swedish language.

Key words: elderly immigrants, ethnicity, care needs, elderly care, special solutions

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