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Transition into an Ageing Society

Wim van den Heuvel, professor in Care Sciences at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, emeritus professor in medical sociology and rehab / handicap, will be one of the keynote speakers at the opening day of the conference.


Van den Heuvel, also member of the organizing committee at Solstrand, will in his lecture at the conference describe ageing of societies from a historical perspective. From that position, it may be stated that through the ongoing ageing process – an unique development in human history – societies are facing a new transition process, which will lead to ‘mature’ societies. However, specific problems, related to this transition, may occur. Examples of elderly misuse and of ‘selling down’ care for the elderly, decreasing the quality of care, are such problems for the elderly as such, but other problems like the (future) solidarity between generations or costs of care are affecting the society as a whole. Especially the position of frail old in the ‘mature society’ needs exploration. Firm policies on dignified care for the frail old are needed.

Wim van den Heuvel’s PhD – long time ago – describes the adjustment processes frail elderly are going through when they go to live in nursing homes. Besides his research in gerontology, he did international studies in health care systems and health policy (visiting professorships at Syracuse University, USA and University of Vienna, Austria). He has a special interest in quality of life of people with disabilities and/or chronic diseases. He supervised 55 PhD students, who have successfully defended their thesis.