(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to open the 6th International Carers Conference here in Gothenburg. Arranged in cooperation between the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre, Carers Sweden and Carers UK.
Our societies are ageing all around the world. That is a fantastic situation. Many are ageing healthy and are enjoying long lives with family and friends. But age-related diseases and functional deficits are frequent. This puts great demands on healthcare, social care and family carers.
With the coming demographic development, these challenges will become even larger. We need to find new sustainable and smart solutions in many different fields.
We must aim at the best ways to support the wide range of persons affected by different diseases and also their carers.
The panorama of carers is wide. Many are elderly. Others are still young and working. We need to better understand how different support and solutions can promote health and well-being.
That is why a conference like this is so important – focusing on caring and carers in a broad perspective.
Several years ago, my mother developed dementia. I learned from this personal experience how important it is that families receive the right support:
They need access to health care expertise, and information to understand the disease and its symptoms. But as the illness progresses, they also need continuous advice on how to cope and to best manage the situation.
In the light of this experience I had the privilege to take part in the start of the foundation Silviahemmet in 1996. The foundation is aiming at quality of life for both the person with dementia and their families. Family educations are ongoing since then and educations for professionals always include family support as one of the four cornerstones.
Today, the education programs of Silviahemmet are spread in several countries. Education and spreading of appropriate knowledge to professionals and to informal carers is one important issue.
Research is another:
Research can help us understand the different needs of support in different groups. Research can find medication to cure or to diminish suffering from diseases. And research can provide us with knowledge about technical solutions and assistive devices, to help both the persons affected by disease and their family carers.
Another constant challenge is economy and financing. This is an issue that must be addressed. We cannot afford not to support family-carers. The work that they perform cannot be overrated. And their health and well-being are as important as the health and well-being of the persons they care for.
I understand that participants from some 30 nations are represented in this conference. I hope that you will all receive and share inspiration during these days in Gothenburg. And hopefully this conference will be a starting-point for many future co-operations.
Looking forward, I wish that all of you will be part of a global action toward a world where we all can live and age well. No matter if we are living with a disease or if we are caring for our loved ones.
I wish you a successful conference!