24. May 2022

When the ’68 generation becomes home care recipients. Interview with futurist Anne-Marie Dahl

Anne-Marie Dahl is a futurologist and specializes in the elderly of the future, their culture and their expectations regarding the welfare society. In this interview, she offers her take on what we can expect when the ‘68 generation enters the role of home care recipients – as well as the challenges and opportunities this will bring.

Text by Annamaria Lauridsen.

“I want to be called by my name”

“Recently, I gave a talk on the elderly of the future, in which a participant very typically said: ‘First of all, I am not an ‘elderly person’. I want to be called by my name’. And this encapsulates very well how the future elderly look at themselves”, says futurologist Anne-Marie Dahl, when asked how the elderly of the future will differ from the present.

Anne-Marie has extensive experience in working with future scenarios, has been a consultant at Christiansborg and is today a sought-after speaker. She specializes in the elderly culture of the future and has no doubt that we will soon experience a huge cultural shift when the ‘68 generation hits the home care sector.

Futurologist Anne-Marie Dahl specializes in the elderly of the future.

The elderly of the future want to be seen as individuals

“The elderly of the past and present, has had the approach that ‘now we have had our lives. Now we are set aside, and just have to accept what we get’. We will not see this way of thinking in the elderly of the future. They are children of the welfare society and see the service as a right “, explains Anne-Marie.

“In the past, we have also had very clear life phases, where we have divided people into very clear categories: children, young people, adults and elderly. But with the coming elderly, we will see a far greater individuality. They expect to be seen as ‘me’, as a person – even if they have become old”.

“And they certainly do not see their lives as being over, simply because they have grown old. They will not jus sit back and accept whatever they are given. They want the best out of life – even in their old age “, she adds.

Customers in the public store

In addition, the elderly of the future want to have many options and a high degree of flexibility in their home care service, Anne-Marie points out.

The ’68 generation, and the subsequent generations, see themselves as customers in the public ‘store’. We are used to being able to go down to Føtex, where there are 10 different kinds of beef we can choose from. We want different options and to be able to choose exactly the one we want – also when it comes to home care”, she says.

In addition, we have to accept that the future care recipients make decisions in a slightly different way, says Anne-Marie. The elderly of the future choose with their emotions. It has to feel right.

“The municipality might offer me a solution – but it is not certain that I feel that it is the right one”, she adds.

A boom of relatives

In the future, we will have more elderly people, due to the large generations, but we will actually also have more relatives, Anne-Marie points out.

“The future elderly have some other family constellations with divorced families, bonus children, etc. Therefore, we will typically see that each elderly simply has more relatives – and this is also something the home care system has to be geared for,” she says.

“Because we will see some more complicated family constellations, there will potentially be more disagreement in the families. So we will probably also see that the employees increasingly will have to mediate in the family to reach an agreement on how the care is best performed ”.

The elderly and relatives of the future are also extremely well-informed about opportunities, legislation, etc. We are all today ‘Professor Google’. So the employees will also need to be geared to handle many questions” says Anne-Marie smilingly.

Larger gap between service and expectations

The demand for more options and greater flexibility will, according to Anne-Marie, stress the home care system, even more than it already is.

“There will be increasing pressure on the employees, as there will be an even greater difference between what the public sector offers and the expectations of the elderly and their relatives,” she points out.

“Therefore, the public sector will have to clearly communicate what the public sector must solve and what must be solved in other ways”.

Technology as a part of the solution

With the increasing demand for a flexible, individual service, welfare technology may be an essential part of the solution, Anne-Marie points out.

“We have too few care workers and there will therefore be an increasing pressure towards using more welfare technology in order to maintain a certain service level despite shortage of staff. But the elderly of the future will probably also want more technology in their care. They are used to using technology and look at it more positively than previous generations”.

“Technology can give them the freedom and flexibility they are looking for. Why should I wait for a care worker that can give me a bath if I have a robot that can do it? A robot that allows me to take a bath whenever I want, and as often as I want”, she adds.

At the same time, using welfare technology also matches the self-image of the new elderly, Anne-Marie explains.

The elderly of the future don’t want to be seen as ‘patients’. Getting a ‘robot’ to help you go to the bathroom will therefore probably be preferable for many – thereby you continue to be independant”.

The possibilities of the new elderly culture

According to Anne-Marie, the new elderly culture will not only mean challenges, but also opportunities for home care sector.

The growing desire for flexibility and the positive attitude towards technology is not only something that applies to the future elderly. It is also something that characterizes the younger generations, she says.

“It is difficult to recruit and retain young people in home care sector. And an important reason is that they do not thrive in very fixed frameworks. For example, that you MUST work 7-15 every day. They are used to a far greater flexibility. There is a “temp trend”, where more people work as temps, because they simply thrive on being able to organize their work week themselves “, she says.

“And the same applies to the elderly, where some, for example, are night people and DEFINITELY do not want to take a shower at 8 in the morning! Or some weeks would like to gather all their hours in one day ”.

According to Anne-Marie, we will thereby actually see a situation where the wishes of the elderly and the young employees largely match.

Tinder match between the elderly and the young employees

“Both groups have the same need for a flexible, individually tailored everyday life. And it would be perfect if you could make a kind of Tinder match for the elderly and the employees, where you could match those who have the same wishes. If, for example. could make a booking and say: I want help during this time, and I want to work during this time, ”she says with a smile.

“At least this is a suggestion for a solution where we could use the new elderly culture as an advantage. Where the future elderly culture could actually become part of the solution to the home care’s major recruitment problem ”, concludes Anne-Marie.

Read more about Anne-Marie Dahl, her lectures and workshops at www.futuria.dk.