Senior citizens in Europe: faced with the isolation and inaccessibility of their city, seniors are ready to innovate!

In an exceptional health context, the 5th edition of the Seniors Barometer IPSOS / Fondation Korian, addresses the morale of seniors and focuses this year on city accessibility and services in the territories.

Is life still a source of pleasure for Europe's senior citizens?

In spite of a health crisis that has particularly hit the elderly, the proportion of senior citizens declaring that they are living well this year reached one third of the population, a record level with 80% of those 65 and over (+6 points compared to 2 years ago). At the same time, the pleasure of life seniors experience is constantly decreasing and reached its lowest historical level: age is not a sufficient criterion and inequalities are growing, especially for those who are less autonomous.

While life today remains a source of pleasure for a majority of seniors (72%), this figure has been in continuous decline since 2014 (-12 points over the last 6 years). The decline from before Covid is more pronounced in the 65-74 years old age group, probably because they are still very active and therefore particularly frustrated by the restrictions during confinement.

Senior citizens for whom life is not a source of pleasure (28% of the total) are over-represented among the lower income levels (41%), and therefore women (32% vs. 23% of men), who live longer, with fewer resources. Loneliness is also decisive: people for whom life is no longer a source of pleasure are over-represented among those who live alone (33%) and have no grandchildren (31%). In fact, it is the level of dependence that is the most divisive factor: 58% of highly dependent people (those with health problems or chronic illnesses and need a lot of help) consider that they no longer experience the pleasure of living, as do 40% of those who have some minor health concerns and need a little help.

How accessible is the city?

Senior citizens judge very severely how adapted their city is to the lives of the elderly. Out of the 11 criteria tested, which range from accessibility of health services to safety, the average score given for accessibility of services in the city is only 4.5/10. The youngest people share this observation with an equivalent score, aware of their territory’s poor adaptation to the elderly. In everyone's opinion, it is the presence of free, clean and safe public toilets that is particularly lacking for people with reduced mobility, families with young children travelling with strollers, pedestrians, etc.

Faced with an inability to use their car and having difficulties walking, only a minority of seniors could easily continue to visit the shops and use the services they need. The unsuitability of the city therefore contributes to the difficulty seniors have in enjoying life.

What role for retirement homes in the future to make up for the lack of services?

A large number of seniors feel they lack services and infrastructures close to home: a mobility assistance point (31%), a cash dispenser (26%), a point of access to public services (25%), but also a place for training (24%) or a market (23%). The under-65s, particularly in Italy, also complain about these shortcomings.

For the vast majority of senior citizens, the provision of itinerant services would be useful and would make it possible to compensate for the inadequate accessibility of their city.

A large number of seniors feel they lack services and infrastructures close to home: a mobility assistance point (31%), a cash dispenser (26%), a point of access to public services (25%), but also a place for training (24%) or a market (23%). The under-65s, particularly, also complain about these shortcomings. For the vast majority of senior citizens, the provision of itinerant services would be useful and would make it possible to compensate for the inadequate accessibility of their city. The originality of this survey is that it asks about the services that could be made available to everyone in nursing homes. Indeed, the network of nursing homes is very tight: 70% said they live less than 5 km from a nursing home. Seniors are particularly interested in points of access to public services (64%) or a doctor / health services (63%), but also a cash dispenser (61%), a park / garden (60%) or a market (59%). Interest is logically even higher when these services are perceived to be lacking nearby. It is also very present among those under 65 years of age, who may also be less reluctant to consider walking through the doors of a nursing home

"The demand for these new solutions demonstrates a great openness of mind among seniors, which should inspire future debates on the law on old age and autonomy. It is really time we understand that Europeans have largely changed their view of aging!” reacts Serge Guérin, President of the Scientific Council of the Korian Foundation.

Methodology: To carry out this survey, Ipsos interviewed more than 8,000 people in August 2020 in 4 emblematic countries of the European Union (France, Germany, Italy and Belgium)