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How a longer lifespan can be a curse

People are living longer but not necessarily better lives, according to a long-term study being carried out by Swiss universities. (RTS/swissinfo.chExternal link)

This content was published on May 12, 2016 - 15:00

Since the 70s, the life expectancy for a Swiss has been extended by ten years. Demographers say children now have a 50% chance of reaching 100. But elderly people often suffer from degenerative illnesses that make them dependent on help, so the longer lifespan can be a curse rather than a blessing.

This is one of the findings of the LIVES project, which started in 2011 and involves 150 researchers from the universities of Lausanne, Geneva, Bern, Fribourg and Zurich, among others. The project has been funded for 12 years by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Researchers from different disciplines are studying the lives of 25’000 people, focusing on how they become vulnerable due to stressful situations such as divorce, unemployment, migration, ageing and bereavement, which can lead to social exclusion and poverty. The ultimate aim is to use the findings to develop social policies that will help to reduce vulnerability in society.

As part of the project, more than 700 elderly people are being interviewed over a ten-year period. Swiss public television, RTS, met a few of them. 

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