People in Switzerland set to live healthier lives for longer, study shows
A new study by experts at the University of Lausanne has found that as life expectancy in Switzerland increases, so too does the length of time people remain healthy. Researchers found that as of 2017, men and women can expect to live a life without infirmity for an average of 16 years after they claim a pension.
Study looks into how healthy Swiss people are in old age
To create the report, scientists from the university analysed health surveys conducted by the government up until 2017 - the date of the last survey. Specifically, they looked at how old people in Switzerland are when they develop mild to severe disabilities and infirmities, including those relating to old age. Experts explained that while the average human lifespan has increased in Switzerland, they wanted to find out what condition people are in during those additional years.
The team in Lausanne found that, while overall life expectancy from birth has slowly increased - apart from a brief slump during the COVID pandemic - reaching 81,9 years for men and 85,9 for women, the length of time people can expect to remain healthy has increased dramatically. As of 2017, after the age of 65 men can expect to live an average of 16,2 years without developing a disability, frailty or old age condition - women have 16 years.
Healthy life expectancy in Switzerland increased by 2 years since 2007
In all, what the study called “disability-free life expectancy” has increased by 2,1 years since 2007. Furthermore, they found that if a person reaches the age of 65 today, on average they can expect to live until they are 87 if they are a woman and around 85 if they are a man. Like the increase in overall life expectancy, RTS noted that Switzerland’s positive score can be attributed to healthy lifestyle choices, overall quality of life, and the quality of the Swiss healthcare system.
Unclear how COVID pandemic will impact long-term health
However, Laurence Seematter from the University Hospital of Lausanne told SRF that it is difficult to say whether improvements will continue, especially once the long-term impact of the COVID pandemic is known: “Not only because of the functional decline of those infected but also as a consequence of the lockdown, during which older people were less physically and socially active and thus accumulated risk factors for disability."
The study's authors hope that their findings will be used to predict how much needs to be reformed and spent on the healthcare and social security system in Switzerland in the coming years as more people reach old age. For more information, please consult the official study.