Mention Sweden and you’re likely to think about Ikea, those delightful little meatballs, and well, Swedish Fish. But there’s far more to the Scandinavian nation than meets the eye. In fact, last year it was ranked the best place in the world to grow old. Swedes also have among the highest life expectancies in the world, ranking in the world top 10, just shy of 82 years as of last year, compared with 78.7 years with the 26th-ranked U.S.. And last year, it was even ranked the 5th happiest nation in the world, according to the World Happiness report, while the U.S. came in 17th.
While you likely gravitate towards retiring in sunny places with sun-kissed beaches, it seems the chilly nation up north might actually be a better idea. Here are five reasons the Swedes are superior when it comes to aging:
The Nordic Diet
We’ve heard the hype about the heart-smart Mediterranean Diet and it’s anti-aging benefits, but don’t be surprised if you start hearing more and more about the diet of our Scandinavian counterparts — and don’t worry, it’s delicious too.Full of fish, berries, and whole grains, the diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol,lower the risk of heart disease, and some studies have suggested that the diet could be responsible for lower mortality rates.
A Clean Environment
Bordered by the Baltic Sea and boasting numerous lakes, Sweden ranks second best for lowest air pollution and highest water quality, according to the OECD.And as the saying goes, there’s nothing like a little fresh air for your health. Lower air pollution can reduces your chances of death from strokes, lung cancer, and numerous respiratory problems according to the World Health Organization.Studies have shown that any reductions in air pollution can have positive effects on life expectancy.
Sweden’s elder care communities offer the best of both worlds, giving seniors the care they need combined with the independence they desire. Residents can prepare their own food, take vacations, and dictate their own daytime schedules yet they have the comfort of knowing that care is nearby should they need it.
Elder Care System
Senior care in Sweden is delegated to individual municipalities, so they provide a wide variety of options for their citizens. In addition to their care communities, the country offers several services you might be surprised to hear. According to thegovernment’s website, the Social Services Act was revised in 2012 to allow for older people who have lived together for a long period of time to continue to live together even when one of them needs assisted living.Many municipalities even provide meal delivery to seniors, communal meals at local centers, home-help aides, and can even apply for round-the-clock care at home in some cases.
A recent poll showed that Sweden is one of Europe’s fittest countries, with 7 out of 10 Swedes surveyed saying they exercise weekly, and just under 10 percent saying they never exercise. According to the Swedish Sports Authority, nearly half of Swedes between ages 7 and 70 say they work out twice a week or more.And they’re not just sweating it out at the gym. Walking is a big part of Swedish culture, with many people opting to work or cycle their way around.While weaving exercise into your routine may seem like a small change, studies have shown that even modest amounts of exercise can go a long way. A Queen’s University study showed people who exercise over two and a half hours a week can live up to six years longer than their inactive counterparts!