Experiential Health from an Ageing and Migration Perspective: The Case of Older Finland-Swedes

  • Gunilla KullaEmail author
  • Sirkka-Liisa Ekman
  • Anneli Sarvimäki
Original Paper


Research has shown that immigrants and minority groups tend to have a lower health status compared to the majority population. The Finnish immigrants in Sweden are no exception. The Finland-Swedes, i.e., persons living in Finland who have Swedish as their mother language, seem to be an exception, however. They have been found to have better health and longer life expectancy compared to the Finnish majority. Research on health among migrated Finland-Swedes is scarce. The aim of this study was to describe and deepen the understanding of how older Finland-Swedes living as immigrants in Sweden, as well as re-migrants in Finland, experienced their health. Data was collected through 39 qualitative interviews with 29 older Finland-Swedes aged 65 or more. Data was analysed through qualitative thematic content analysis. The analysis resulted in five themes: Ageing means becoming frail and closer to death; Despite frailty and old age it is possible to feel well and experience peace; Being grateful for health as a source of life; Health comes from inner strength and external sources; Migration meant a mental and physical burden to health. Overall, both ageing and migration were experienced as jeopardising health.


Health Migration Older persons Finland-Swedes Minorities 



The study was funded by the Academy of Finland through the research programme “Across the Gulf of Bothnia”; the Cultural Fund of Sweden and Finland; Jan-Magnus Jansson’s Fund for Geriatrics and Elder Care; the La Carita Foundation; Otto A. Malm’s Fund; and The Swedish-Finnish Cultural Foundation. We would like to thank Mr. Ilkka Syrén for language revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gunilla Kulla
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sirkka-Liisa Ekman
    • 3
  • Anneli Sarvimäki
    • 1
  1. 1.Age InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.The Nordic School of Public HealthGothenburgSweden
  3. 3.Division of Nursing, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and SocietyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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