Formal and Informal Care of Community-Living Older People: A Population-Based Study from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(1):17-24. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0747-5.


Objectives: Study formal and informal care of community-living older people in the Swedish National study of Aging and Care (SNAC).

Design: Cross-sectional, population based cohort.

Setting: Three areas in Sweden: Municipality of Nordanstig, Stockholm and Skåne County.

Participants: 3,338 persons ≥72 years.

Measurements: Patterns and amounts of informal and formal care by cognition and area of residence.

Results: 73% received no care; 14% formal care; and 17% informal care (7% received both). In the whole study population, including those who used no care, individuals in small municipalities received 9.6 hours of informal care/month; in mid-size municipalities, 6.6; and in urban areas, 5.6. Users of informal care received 33.1 hours of informal care/month in small municipalities, 54.6 in mid-size municipalities and 36.1 in urban areas. Individuals with cognitive impairment received 14.1 hours of informal care/month, 2.7 times more than people with no/slight impairment. In the whole study population, individuals in small municipalities received an average of 3.2 hours of formal care/month; in mid-size municipalities 1.4; and in urban areas, 2.6. Corresponding figures for formal care users were 29.4 hours in small municipalities, 13.6 in mid-size municipalities and 16.7 in urban areas. Formal care users received 7.1 hours, and informal care users, 5.9 hours for each hour/month received by people in the study population as a whole.

Conclusions: More informal than formal care was provided. Informal care is more frequent in small municipalities than urban areas and for those with than without cognitive impairment. The relationship between data on the whole population and the data on users or care indicates that population-based data are needed to avoid overestimates of care.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living*
  • Male
  • Patient Care*
  • Sweden