This is an editorial that expresses the political line of the Barometern-OT. The magazine works on the leadership side for “Christian values and conservative ideology alongside a liberal tradition of ideas and the preservation of business freedom and property rights,” as set forth in the Purpose Clause of the Barometer Foundation. The political etiquette of the magazine is moderate.
In recent years, the term social distancing has gained tangible meaning in people’s lives. The restrictions imposed by the pandemic, and the isolation that ensued, were an emergency for most people. But far from everyone, social distancing is an exception without everyday life, day in and day out. Involuntary loneliness is common in Sweden, and is more prevalent among the elderly but is also found in other age groups.
Sweden is sometimes portrayed as a country with a culture that creates loneliness on an exceptionally large scale. Then it may be important to remind yourself that there are similar problems across Europe, which the European Social Survey of the European Union has shown. So the image of a separate Sweden is incorrect. One of the countries at the fore in addressing and mapping involuntary loneliness is the United Kingdom.
This and many other aspects of involuntary loneliness are highlighted in Unit map report. The report was prepared by the Politically Independent Unity Committee, which was set up in 2021 and aims to identify and counter loneliness in Sweden. The chair of the unit committee is publicist Amelia Adamo, and the board includes Eva Erickson of SPF and physician and professor Ingmar Skoog. Sponsorship is provided by, among other things, welfare technology companies.
“Well-being technology cannot meet the needs of proximity and comfort.”
Involuntary loneliness is not only a matter of mental and spiritual illness, but also involves the risk of, for example, cardiovascular disease, dementia and increased physical pain. One in five elderly people in Sweden suffer from involuntary loneliness. They lack a social context, someone to contact and have no regular human contact.
The human need is manifested, among other things, in the fact that one percent of all conversations that pass through the alarms of the elderly revolve around loneliness. One percent may seem small, but in one month there are 3,000 calls, which is 125 per day. On-call Swedish church priest receives approximately 80,000 calls annually across 112, during the pandemic up to 100,000 phone calls. There are 350 to 400 calls per night and many of them talk about loneliness.
Loneliness in the elderly is also due to digital exclusion. It is important to remember in political decision-making as well as in the exercise of power and other activities. More and more demands on digital competence in practice exclude a large group of people. It is not a democracy, nor is it acceptable from a humanitarian perspective.
To counter and mitigate loneliness, there are suggestions for luxury tech, of course. Well-being technology includes products such as medical robots and expanded opportunities for digital meetings. It’s an important development, but the human voice and the human hand are and still are essential. Luxury technology cannot replace it or meet the needs of proximity and comfort. And technology won’t be able to change people’s view that devalues the experiences and lives of older people. In the end, it is up to each person to take more responsibility for his neighbor.
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