July 25, 2021

In Sweden, the pandemic has revived debates on discrimination against seniors

LETTER FROM SWEDEN

“You can’t have a law that better protects Britt-Marie, 45, who spends her time in the cafeteria, than a young man willing to work hard. ” Big blunder or hell of a publicity stunt for the Swedish Youth Centrist Movement?

In a tweet, on May 18, its new president, Réka Tolnai, 22, elected a few days earlier, showed how far she was ready to go to defend the interests of young people, even if it meant hurting the rest of the population – even in their forties – and relaunch the controversy over ageism and discrimination of seniors, a phenomenon never as debated in Sweden as since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To understand the resentment of the elderly, we have to go back to March 2020: when the rest of Europe and a good part of the world are confined, Sweden remains open. But people over 70 are expressly asked to isolate themselves. They can go out to exercise, but not going to run errands or get together.

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“We were treated with condescension, denounces Christina Tallberg, president of the main association of retirees, Pro. We were presented as a vulnerable group, which had to be protected, without taking into account that there are big differences between ages and people. But we no longer had our say. Politicians and health officials began to speak above our heads, as if we were unable to have an opinion. “

Hecatomb

During that time, in the retirement homes, it is the hecatomb. While everyone laments it, it is not uncommon to hear, including from officials, that the deceased were “Very old” and would be anyway “Probably dead” in the following weeks or months.

An investigation carried out by the inspection of medical and social services revealed, at the end of November 2020, that a very small minority of the residents of these establishments, contaminated by Covid-19, had been able to see a doctor. Of those who died between April and May this year, only 13% were hospitalized. The rest died in nursing homes, often only receiving painkillers and pain relievers.

Ingmar Skoog, professor of geriatrics at the University of Gothenburg, sees this as an effect of the perception of old age in Sweden: “It seems difficult to imagine that an octogenarian, suffering from dementia, could experience a certain joie de vivre. So it was decided that it was better to spare some of them painful treatment and give them morphine, even if it reduced their chance of survival. “

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