“Solving problems, exploring opportunities”
14.12.2023 Many people in Switzerland enjoy healthy and secure lives long after their retirement. BFH is therefore not only looking for solutions to problems relating to old age, but is also researching the opportunities that come with ageing.
Spotlight on the over 60s: in October 2022, Your Stage – Das Festival zu Arbeitswelten 60plus brought together individuals, organisations and politicians at the Generationenhaus in Bern. For almost three days, the focus was on the diversity of employment at retirement age. The event was co-developed and organised by BFH’s Institute on Ageing. The festival will take place for the second time in late summer 2024.
“We want to show people that it is possible to make a career change at an advanced age,” says Jonathan Bennett, Co-Head of the Institute. “This is also an opportunity to help fight the shortage of skilled workers and to stabilise retirement provision.” As part of the Employment at retirement age project, he and his team are currently investigating ways to keep over-65s in the labour market.
Good health after retirement
However, Jonathan Bennett points out that the over-50s main concern in this field is unemployment. More generally, ageing is primarily associated with health problems. Media coverage also focuses heavily on the social costs of an ageing population. Yet many people in Switzerland enjoy healthy and secure lives long after their retirement.
And indeed: according to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), “life expectancy in good health from the age of 65” was just under 14 years for men and just under 15 for women in 2017. Jonathan Bennett: “Our job is to look for solutions to problems, but also to explore the opportunities that arise.” The diversity of BFH’s research activities is here of great utility.
For example, BFH’s project Interaction training for relatives of people with dementia helps improve communication between people with dementia and their relatives. Around 155,000 people live with dementia in Switzerland. And almost half a million relatives are affected by the disease. Within the BFH project, a 12-part course was developed and tested to help relatives learn how to communicate better with those affected. This enables people with dementia to live at home longer and to receive better care.
Finding solutions in this area often requires an interdisciplinary approach.
Cooperation between the departments
The project E Guete z’Basel aims to facilitate social contact for senior citizens who live on their own. They also receive simple advice on how to ensure a balanced diet at home. “It is often difficult to reach people who need help, especially those who live alone,” says Karin Haas, co-director of the Institute on Ageing. “This can have an impact on their diet in old age.” Under her leadership, a cooking club was created in Basel. Its patrons meet once a month.
Meanwhile, the project Healthy Up High has developed concrete recommendations for property developers and administrations, which can be used to revitalise high-rise buildings and other blocks in a suitable way for the elderly. Three BFH schools participated in the project: the School of Health Professions, the School of Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering, and the School of Social Work. “Ageing research is part of BFH’s strategic thematic field Caring Society. Finding solutions in this area often requires an interdisciplinary approach,” says Carolin Fischer, head of Caring Society.