Alcohol a greater problem among the older
Alcohol misuse among older people is on the rise, and puts new demands on health care. Personnel working with older people are often faced with difficult situations and the collaboration with the addiction treatment care is often deficient. It used to be that younger Swedes drank more than older, but the new generation of retirees has a much higher alcohol consumption than the prior generation did, according to Socialstyrelsen (the National Board of Health and Welfare). In fact more and more older people are being treated for an alcohol-related diagnosis. For those working in the older care, this development means difficult dilemmas, according to Berit Jeppsson, director of elder care in Landskrona. “We see an increased tendency to alcohol addiction. We have a responsibility for people to be healthy, while they also must have the possibility to live their own lives. They should have the possibility to drink, but when the drinking turns into abuse of alcohol it becomes very difficult.”

Stressed Swedish parents
Swedish parents have higher expectations than other parents in Europe when it comes to smoothly combining family life with work, according to new research. “There are often more conflicts in Scandinavian families,” says Lars Plantin, Professor of Social Work at Malmö University. In spite of the best parental and day care systems in the world, Swedish parents of young children think it is difficult to balance childrearing with work, according to a newly concluded study at Malmö University. Parents in Sweden experienced more stress than for instance parents in Bulgaria and Great Britain. “We have a model that’s quite supportive from the government,” say Plantin. “But many employers fail to support the individual parent.”

The future of health care
Measure your blood pressure or take a blood test while you’re shopping? Yes, why not. In the near future, doctor's visits, and a great deal of other hospital care, might be replaced by distance care through convenience stores, cameras and cell phone applications, according to Swedish researchers. “The same way that you drop off your mail at Ica (a grocery store chain in Sweden), you’ll be able to drop off a blood test in an unstaffed examination room,” says Git Eliasson, Medical Engineer at the Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. “Sweden has come a long way when it comes to distance health care, and it is an ideal country in which to test these things, since it’s big size wise, but with low population.” Eliasson is currently leading a developmental project that’ll find methods for care at a distance with the goal of spreading them both within Sweden as well as to the rest of the world. It’s all about making health care as efficient as possible, adds Johan Permert, Professor and Chief Physician at Karolinska University Hospital. But what about the studies that show that the doctor plays an important part in the healing process? “That’s true. But a well-conducted phone call can give the same sense of presence as a regular meeting,” says Permert. One possible model, according to Git Eliasson, is the one that will be tried this fall in Slussfors in Västerbotten. Patients here in need of blood thinners, will get to perform blood tests on themselves by sticking their finger, this will be done either in a classroom at a school or in a room at the local Ica store, where a bed and access to a hospital will be available. By using his or her ID-card, the patient will also access a care bag with needles and the equipment needed for blood tests and blood pressure in order to measure ECG, explains Thomas Molén, Project Manager for Västerbotten’s county council. In some places in Italy, there are already rooms in connection to grocery stores, where the patients themselves can leave their blood tests. And according to Git Eliasson this type of distance care isn’t only something for sparsely-populated areas, but also for the stressed urbanite, who may not have a full day to set aside for his health issues. “Imagine you fall ill,” she says. “Instead of taking a whole day and maybe even take a whole day of a relative to be transported to a hospital, you can receive care via a text message or a grocery store.” She adds that in order for the system to be safe for the patient, the equipment will be simple to understand, and the test results will be sent via the patient’s cell phone or a web camera in the store. The results will come back the same way. The research team will now look into health and financial benefits with distance care, and how to spread it on a larger scale without tampering with privacy or the law. The purpose with this distance care is not to launch new medical technology, but to simplify health care for both doctor and patient. However, according to Ingalill Koinberg, researcher and specialist nurse in oncology at the Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, distance care can never replace the direct meeting between patient and doctor or nurse. “Care at a distance may function as a complement and when it comes to reporting blood pressure. But it doesn’t work for someone who has a disease. Many studies have shown that patients want to meet someone who can deal with their worries. And that doesn’t work with telemedicine,” she says.

Swedish painting of Rihanna
Swedish painter Henric Aryee mailed his portrait of American singer Rihanna to the star herself, who in turn put it out on her instagram account. Now the painting has been shared half a million times. Aryee had hoped that he’d get some attention for his decadent portrait of the star, but that she herself would publish it on social media – well, Stockholm-based Aryee never thought that would happen. “I can hardly believe it’s true. It’s a great motivation, and perhaps it leads to others wanting me to paint them. It will definitely lead to something,” he says to The painting, which is done in mixed media, took three days to make. After it was done Aryee sent it to Rihanna’s official photo blog and to a couple of fan blogs as well. He also put it out on Instagram, where he tagged it with Rihanna’s instagram account “badgalriri”. The attention has made Aryee want to paint other international celebrities: “Justin Bieber would be fun to do. He also has a special style that you can do much with, and he’s also active on social media. It’s an effective way to be seen and it’s fun,” Aryee says. He also hopes that people will notice his other art works, which are not related to celebrities. “At the moment I’m working on an exhibition titled ‘Perfect people’, and I’m now looking for a gallery.” Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. For more on Henric Aryee and his art:

Swedish festivals on top
This year some 20 Pride festivals are arranged throughout Sweden, making Sweden one of the European countries with the most festivals of this kind. “It’s an opportunity to discuss political issues that are of importance long after the end of the festival,” says chairwoman of RFSL (Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter or the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) Ulrika Westerlund. The past years a number of new events have been created in order to put focus on hbtq (homosexual, bisexual, transsexual and queer) issues. And Sweden differs from its neighboring countries – neither Norway, nor Finland or Denmark have as many Pride festivals as Sweden. Meanwhile, Oslo’s version works with both West Pride in Göteborg as well as Stockholm Pride to exchange ideas and to get inspiration. “The commitment is great, and many people travel to several festivals, like they cannot get enough. That many travel to Sweden and Denmark to go to Pride is probably a sign of that,” says Ingvid Endestad, advisor at LLH, Norway’s national organization for homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual people. Endestad believes it’s positive that there are more and more festivals, especially in smaller cities and towns where it’s easy for people to feel alone and where it’s more difficult to meet others. Ask Ulrich Petersen, chairman of LGBT Ungdom (Denmark’s organization for hbtq youths) agrees that it is important with days focusing on hbtq, but also hopes the day will come when Pride festivals are no longer needed. “I believe in more education,” he says. “That’s what RFSL is good at, and we try to copy them.” Ulrika Westerlund believes Pride festivals are a great way to focus on hbtq issues: “Stockholm Pride has for a long time been a great example in northern Europe, not to say the entire world. Many people from the neighboring countries come here for the seminars.”

Political scientist: Bildt’s twitter official statement
Saturday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s hot debate with Egypt’s ambassador to Sweden was exposed on twitter, by Bildt himself. And Ulf Bjereld, Professor of Political Science at Göteborg University says: “(Bildt’s) post ought to be viewed as official Swedish statements.” The debate with Ambassador Osama Elmagdoub was about whether the demonstrations in Egypt were peaceful or not, and whose responsibility it is, that so many died. That such a discussion between two politicians occur on Twitter, leads to questions regarding who Carl Bildt represents with his posts. “Bildt himself would probably say that he blogs as a Foreign Minister. His posts, therefore, ought to be viewed as official Swedish statements,” says Bjereld. The reason the exchange of words took place, is because the Egyptian ambassador most certainly felt insulted by Bildt’s critical post, Bjereld thinks. “He writes openly for everybody to see, instead of discussing the matter directly with the ambassador or write it up in a press release.” Bildt himself doesn’t say much regarding the altercation with the Egyptian. “There’s not much more to say about it. It speaks for itself,” he commented to daily DN. Bjereld explains that foreign politics used to be more shrouded in secrecy, it used to be something the public had little insight into. “Today the politicians’ publicity is stronger and Bildt is one of those international politicians who is very active on for instance Twitter.” The fact that more and more politicians use the popular micro blog Twitter leads to political discussions becoming more open and public, according to Bjereld. Anyone can become a participant in the debate, and the hierarchy between politicians and the public has been erased. “We don’t yet know where this may lead. There are those who are of the opinion that more important decisions will be wrapped up and taken behind closed doors, so that the political game becomes even more closed than what it used to be. I don’t think so; transparency has its own value. But Twitter is such a new phenomenon that it is difficult to gauge where it will end.”