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Care homes in Swiss Jura stage ‘elderly Olympics'

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Care homes in Swiss Jura stage ‘elderly Olympics'
File photo: Ethan Prater
10:45 CEST+02:00
Elderly people living in care homes in the canton of Jura took part in an Olympics-style event on Tuesday involving walking frame races and a darts competition.

The event was staged in Bassecourt by JURAnciens, the umbrella organization for the 12 residential care homes in the Jura, each of whom  selected ten residents to take part in the games, reported Le Matin.

The ‘Olympic flame' was lit by a 99-year-old, said the paper, kicking off an event that saw participants compete across five disciplines: a slalom race for users of a walking (zimmer) frame, shooting basketball hoops, throwing darts, stacking polystyrene bricks and banging nails into a log.

The event may have had its tongue firmly in its cheek – it is anti-doping but not anti-medication, said the paper – but it also had serious ambitions, aiming to showcase the region's elderly, forge links between care homes and get residents away from their rooms and into an active, social atmosphere.

“We have sparked a spirit of competition,” organizer Sylvia Moritz told Le Matin, saying that some participants took it very seriously and became worried they wouldn't have enough time to prepare when told of their selection... six months ago.

Speaking to local radio station RFJ earlier this month, Moritz said since the training started it had really created a “dynamic” in the care homes, with residents discussing which discipline they were participating in and sharing tips over lunch.

And the event itself went down well.

“They are radiant, motivated, encouraging their teammates,” one care home worker told the station on Tuesday.

“It also sparks memories as many of them did sport when they were young,” she added.

Participants included 86-year-old Gilberte Chetelat, who managed 19 nails in two minutes, and 95-year-old Gisele Chaignat, who totalled 570 points in the darts competition.

Medals were awarded by Swiss Olympian and Jura native Eric Hänni, 77, who won Judo silver in 1964.

According to the Swiss Statistics Office, the canton of Jura has a relatively low number of people aged over 80 living in care homes, since the cantonal system favours supporting the elderly in their own homes.

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