UN report: Danish elderly in poor health
Despite the reputation of its welfare state, Denmark is far from the best place in the world to grow old.
Of the 90 countries included in the study by AgeWatch and the UN, Denmark is ranked 17th, while neighbours Sweden, Norway and Germany took first, second and third place respectively.
The majority of countries that ranked above Denmark were European, although the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia were all also considered better countries for the elderly.
The poor health of Denmark’s elderly was singularly responsible for pulling down Denmark’s ranking, with the nation ranking number 40 in the study's health category.
The elderly in many South American countries, such as Venezuela, Columbia, Peru and Ecuador, are all considered healthier than elderly Danes, who rank alongside those in Croatia, Sri Lanka and Paraguay.
Elderly focus in budget negotiations
The report coincides with a resumption of the government’s budget negotiations with far-left party Enhedslisten (EL), which has demanded one billion kroner to improve the living conditions of Denmark’s elderly.
“The elderly are being subject to worsening treatment,” EL spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “It’s simply not a dignified way to treat the people who built our welfare state. We want to halt the trend.”
EL wants to hire 3,000 extra home-care assistants with the one billion kroner and promise the elderly four basic rights: fortnightly cleaning, an annual spring cleaning, two baths per week and regular outdoor activity.
The finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (Sociademokraterne), has already expressed his scepticism to the proposal.
“We will have to discuss the proposal during the negotiations but it does not sound realistic given the economic limitations we have for the coming year,” Corydon told Jyllands-Posten.