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The elderly live longer and more independently

Outside care helps the elderly stay longer in their own homes Keystone

A study released on Tuesday says the majority of elderly people in the country are living longer, more independently and prefer to stay in their own homes.

This content was published on January 25, 2005 - 14:20

The Federal Statistics Office says there is a downward trend in the proportion of older people living in nursing and retirement homes since 1990.

The office said that improvements to health and medical care at home, as well as a moratorium on building new nursing homes in some cantons, were the main reasons for the trend.

Researchers at Geneva and Lausanne universities carried out the study after analysing data about demographic change collected during the last Swiss census in 2000.

The study found that there was a big difference as far as the very old were concerned, with the majority of women over 95 living in social-medical institutions, while men of the same age tended to stay in their own homes.

It also revealed that the highest levels of old people residing in nursing homes were in central and eastern cantons.

Social policies

The lowest levels were recorded in the five cantons of French- speaking cantons – Vaud, Valais, Fribourg, Geneva and Jura – which have social policies that encourage the elderly to stay as long as possible in their own homes.

In general, people spend their post-retirement time as couples and later at a very old age alone, particularly after 80 and in big urban areas.

The study brought out regional differences in terms of life expectancy. Women in the canton of Basel Country can hope to live 81.6 years, while those in Geneva 84 years.

Men in Appenzell Inner Rhodes can expect to live till they are 75, whereas in Nidwalden the figure is 79.1 years.

At the age of 65 healthy women in 1992 could expect to live a further 11.4 years, but in 2002, the figure had increased to 13.3 years.

The outlook for 65-year-old men in the same time frame went up from 10.4 years to 12.3 years.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Old people in Switzerland are living longer, healthier and more independently.

Since 1990, the proportion of old people living in nursing homes has gone down.

The majority of women over 95 live in some kind of care residence.

Men over that age tend to prefer to stay in their own homes.

The data was collected from Switzerland’s last census in 2000.

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