Ageing and Health
Older people are especially vulnerable. Loneliness and poverty in old age can cause health problems. Physical ailments make everyday living more difficult. We work to support healthy ageing – in Switzerland and around the world.
People are living for longer. This poses significant challenges, both for the individuals concerned and for society as a whole. At the same time, the birth rate is also falling in many countries.
In less affluent regions such as Eastern Europe or Central Asia, for example, large numbers of people are moving to the cities or abroad for work, leaving older people behind. Many are lonely and have no one to help them. Too old to work, they often sink into poverty. In many cases healthcare provision in rural areas is also poor, with hospitals or retirement homes being very difficult to access.
Health and well-being are at the forefront of our activities in Switzerland. Around 70% of people aged over 80 suffer from one or more chronic illnesses. Most want to stay at home for as long as possible. However, many find it difficult to get and accept the right support to do so. Family members then often find themselves gradually taking on a caring role. This can mean that relatives are left on their own to deal with shifting roles, stressful situations and administrative tasks.
The SRC is committed to helping people of all ages maintain good health. It is important to remain open to new things as we grow older, and we should consider how best to provide care and also what it means to accept help. To support ageing with dignity, as we believe that most older people feel happiest in their own homes.
This also aligns with the United Nations‘ third Sustainable Development Goal ‘Good health and well-being’.
What we do
Our projects and the services we provide cover a wide range of areas, from medical care to activities and support for everyday living. All these elements are designed to enable older people to live healthy and autonomous lives.
Trained nursing staff visit people regularly and ensure they receive medical care. In countries where we are active such as Moldova, Armenia and Bosnia, care assistants carry out a range of tasks in patients‘ homes, from helping with washing and administering medication through to measuring blood pressure or checking blood sugar levels. Home helps and Red Cross volunteers help with day-to-day domestic tasks, go shopping or provide companionship to those living on their own. The SRC assists agencies and partner organizations in the development of new care and support models as well as funding modalities.
The SRC is supporting older people in Moldova and Armenia by setting up seniors clubs where they can join in regular communal activities such as knitting or singing. The clubs help to break down the social isolation that many suffer from. They learn to use their resources in new ways, provide mutual support and join together to lobby agencies about their rights and issues that affect them. They can thus improve their own circumstances and those of the community themselves.
Helping neighbours is also important. Older people who are still fit help and support their less able neighbours. Assisting others also boosts their own self-worth and they are happy being able to give something back to society.
Volunteers visit lonely people
Volunteers visit lonely people in their homes. They might have a chat over a cup of tea or go for a walk together. In this way, volunteer befrienders bring some variety and cheer into people’s everyday lives. In Switzerland, contacts and visits are organized regionally via the Red Cross cantonal associations.
Help with transport
The Red Cross transport service helps older people get around. Volunteer drivers take older or infirm people to medical or therapy appointments. All drivers are volunteers. There is a small charge to cover the volunteer’s expenses (fuel costs).
Support for family carers
We provide advice and support to people caring for family members. Caring for relatives can be an emotional rollercoaster as carers are faced with uncertainties and new challenges. The Red Cross cantonal associations offer support services for family carers. The national website betreuen.redcross.chOpens in a new window provides information and answers to key questions about caring for and supporting relatives.
GOOD TO KNOW
We help municipalities create age-friendly communities by providing material services for older people in terms of infrastructure, transport or residential homes.
Facts and figures
clients in Switzerland
57,000 people benefited from Red Cross transport and respite services in 2021.
hours of support for family carers in Switzerland
The respite services provided by the Red Cross cantonal associations enable carers to take some time off for themselves and their own needs.
older people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
In 2021, we helped 21,000 older people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Red Cross’s emergency hotline was really important for my grandmother in her day-to-day life. It allowed her to remain in her own home, where she lived alone, for much longer. She knew that there was always someone at the end of the hotline if she needed help.
Linda Fäh, Singer and SRC-ambassador
Where we help
The SRC works to support the health of older people in Switzerland and countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Thanks to local volunteers, we also reach people in remote villages.