• health care;
  • geriatric care;
  • older persons;
  • aged;
  • Switzerland

Switzerland has the second-most-expensive healthcare system worldwide, with 11.5% of gross domestic product spent on health care in 2003. Switzerland has a healthcare system with universal insurance coverage and a social insurance system, ensuring an adequate financial situation for 96% of the 1.1 million older inhabitants.

Key concerns related to the care of older persons are topics such as increasing healthcare costs, growing public awareness of patient autonomy, and challenges related to assisted suicide. In 2004, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences issued guidelines for the care of disabled older persons.

Since 2000, geriatrics has been a board-certified discipline with a 3-year training program in addition to 5 years of training in internal or family medicine. There are approximately 125 certified geriatricians in Switzerland, working primarily in geriatric centers in urban areas. Switzerland has an excellent research environment, ranking second of all countries worldwide in life sciences research—but only 13th in aging research. This is in part due to a lack of specific training programs promoting research on aging and inadequate funding. In addition, there is a shortage of academic geriatricians in Switzerland, in part due to the fact that two of five Swiss universities had no academic geriatric departments in 2005. With more-adequate financial resources for academic geriatrics, Switzerland would have the opportunity to contribute more to aging research internationally and to improved care for older patients.