Home: a key resource for seniors

Home: a key resource for seniors

The fourth edition of the "Age Report – Habitat et vieillissement : Réalités et enjeux de la diversité" explores the question of housing among elderly people in Switzerland. This report co-directed by Dario Spini (NCCR LIVES) proves the centrality of home in the life of the elderly. Seniors’ satisfaction in terms of housing has globally increased but strong inequalities remain, depending on the linguistic regions and between city and countryside. This is notably linked to the variable economical situation of seniors, one elder in five being at risk of financial precarity. The report presents recommendations and challenges for the future of elderly persons in Switzerland, a population that keeps growing.

The satisfaction linked to the housing conditions hasn’t stopped increasing since 2003, thanks to the comfort of the housing by itself, the neighborhood, the environment as well as the attachment to the living place. Despite these improvements, housing is still a tough challenge, especially for more vulnerable elders. Indeed, one elderly person in five is at risk of financial precarity. According to this study, retired people in Switzerland are globally satisfied by their financial situation, even though big differences exist depending on the linguistic region. This feeling is indeed inferior in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland.

This report also presents multiple recommendations and challenges concerning the growing population of elders in Switzerland. 

  • Ensure material security – Housing should be a place prone to answer needs in terms of quality of life for the totality of seniors, independently of their specificities and potential vulnerabilities. 
  • Integrate the interpersonal network – Family and interpersonal network of seniors contribute to the reflection on the privileged living place (apartment, at home care, nursing home, etc.). Taking these relationships into account is important to improve elders’ quality of life.  
  • Considering alternatives – Alternatives to the traditional home and to nursing homes should be developed, in order to better answer seniors’ specific needs, for whom staying home still is a priority. Recommendations like apartment-sharing or specialised units in retirement homes are evoked. 
  • Implicate seniors in decision making – Nursing homes can be considered semi-private spaces, where a lot of decisions are made for the seniors and their living conditions, sometimes without consulting them. This report invites to think about these questions to guarantee personal fulfilment and respect of their private space.

More generally, this book wants to encourage reflection on elders’ living place, by taking into account their large diversity, by including as many influencing factors as possible. Researches conducted as part of the Age Report are an essential tool for field professionals and public authorities representatives.

"Age Report IV - Habitat et vieillissement : Réalités et enjeux de la diversité" is the fourth edition of a report studying the elder population in Switzerland. Co-directed by François Höpflinger (University of Zurich), Valérie Hugentobler (Haute école de travail social et de santé Vaud) et Dario Spini (NCCR LIVES), this book is published by the Age-Stiftung Foundation and supported by the Leenaards Foundation. Based on more than 2'500 interviews and covering the different Swiss linguistic regions, this report focus itself in this edition on the living place. Available in French and German.