Illness and age

Illness and age

What you should do in an emergency, when you need to see a doctor and when you should go to hospital - you can find answers to these and many other questions, including those about old age, under "Illness and old age".


01. What is an emergency and what to do then?

An emergency is a life-threatening situation. Most public hospitals have an emergency department that is open 24 hours. However, it is intended for serious cases.

In the canton of Obwalden, the Emergency ward in the hospital Sarnen. Around the clock and during 365 days, patients who need immediate medical treatment are cared for.
An interdisciplinary team of medical specialists and competent nursing staff ensures professional primary medical care.

Important emergency numbers:

  • Ambulance 144
  • Police 117
  • Fire department 118
  • Poisoning 145 (Toxicology Information Center)

If a person in your area suffers an emergency (e.g., an accident), the First aid the most important thing. Vital bodily functions such as consciousness, breathing and circulation must be ensured. What exactly to do can be learned in a course. In an emergency situation fast action is important. You can reach the ambulance and rescue service by calling 144. When calling, give the following information:

  • Your name,
  • from where you call,
  • what has happened,
  • how many people are involved/injured
  • what have you already done?

02. How to give first aid?

First aid means helping an injured person until the ambulance arrives. There are rules for this that can be learned in courses. Many Swiss communities offer such courses. These so-called emergency courses are also required to obtain a driver's license. There are also special courses for emergencies with small children. These are highly recommended for parents, grandparents and other caregivers.

Here you will find addresses of emergency responder and first aid courses in all regions of Switzerland.

03. How to find a health care provider?

A family doctor or primary care physician provides the initial treatment when you are sick. They are trained for preventive care and treatment of the whole body. A family doctor knows you well through regular visits and can give you the best advice. It is therefore better to always go to the same family doctor.

Having a primary care doctor has another advantage: if you are sick, you can call the primary care office at any time and more easily Appointment at short notice arrange. Also, with many health insurance plans, the premium is cheaper if you have a primary care physician. Here is a Listing of the Obwalden family doctors.

There are several ways to find a health care provider. findAsk your friends and acquaintances or look on the Internet at the following addresses:

The Health Guide Switzerland helps migrants navigate the Swiss healthcare system - available in 18 languages.

04. How does a doctor's visit work?

A doctor's visit proceeds as follows:

  • Call the doctor's office and make an appointment (if you can't keep the appointment, cancel it by phone at least 24 hours in advance)
  • The doctor will examine you and, if necessary, prescribe medication, treatment or therapy.
  • The family doctor may also refer you to a specialist

05. What offers are there for children?

In Switzerland, in addition to the private Pediatricians also special free offers for school children:

Some school communities offer a School Doctor Service an: The school doctor examines the school children in kindergarten, in the 4th and in the 8th school year and vaccinates them. In this way, health problems can be detected and treated at an early stage.

School Dentist and School Dental Care: A dentist examines the children's teeth once a year. In addition, the dental care service comes by regularly and shows the schoolchildren in class how to brush their teeth carefully and correctly. In the canton of Obwalden, this is organized by the school health service. The check-up is carried out free of charge.

School Psychological Services: Here you can get help with your child's school, psychological and educational problems. The psychologists are bound by professional secrecy. This service is free of charge.

School Psychological Service of the Canton of Obwalden:

Address: Brünigstrasse 178, P.O. Box 1262, 6061 Sarnen
Phone: 041 666 62 55

06. When do I need to go to the doctor?

If you have only mild symptoms, you can also ask for advice at a pharmacy. There you can get medicines that do not require a doctor's prescription.

When you severe symptoms it is best to go to your family doctor first. It is also possible to go directly to a specialist (= specialist) (e.g. ear, nose and throat specialist). But then you may have to wait a long time for an appointment. You may also have to pay the costs yourself. This is because many health insurance companies require you to see your family doctor first. He or she will then refer you to the specialist. Ask your health insurance company if you want to know more about this.

You only go to the hospital in emergency situations.

07. When do I need to go to the hospital?

You are usually referred to hospital by your family doctor. Reasons for this can be examinations, an operation or therapy. When you are admitted, you must show your health insurance card. At least a few days before admission, you will receive all the information from the hospital by mail: for example, what you need to bring with you and how you can prepare yourself.

The basic insurance of the health insurance companies pays for hospital treatment in the General Department. Health insurance companies offer more expensive supplementary insurance for private or semi-private treatment in hospital. With a semi-private supplementary insurance you are entitled to a two-bed room. With a private supplementary insurance you are entitled to a single room.

There are different types of hospitals. Many cantons have their own public Canton Hospital. This is where your doctor will refer you in the first place if you do not need a special clinic. In the canton of Obwalden, the cantonal hospital is located in Sarnen.

Here you will find further information about the Cantonal Hospital Obwalden.

Here you can get an overview of hospitals in Switzerland. Addresses of specialized facilities such as eye clinics, obstetrics, lung clinics or dentistry are also available there.

08. Who will take care of me in the hospital and can I receive visitors?

In the hospital, male and female nurses take over the majority of the Care and support. They are specially trained for this and work closely with the physicians. Patients (and close relatives) have a right to be informed about the treatment and possible consequences. If you have a question, first ask the nursing staff.

You can receive visitors in the hospital. There are regular visiting hours. Ask for them at the hospital or check the website. In shared rooms, you should be considerate of the other patients' state of health.

During the hospital stay eat the patients in the room. If you have any requests (e.g. no pork, vegetarian or kosher food, allergy to certain foods), tell the nursing staff. It is usually no problem to fulfill these wishes. It is not necessary for relatives to bring edibles to patients.

09. What is in my medical record?

You can request to see your medical history (also called medical record) at the doctor's office and at the hospital. This contains the most important data about your treatment, such as examinations, diagnoses, medications, operations and the development of the illness. No one may disclose this information to anyone else.

You can obtain information about your rights and obligations as a patient here.

10. Can I get care at home?

After a hospital stay, you may need further care. That's what the Spitex service is for. Appropriately trained persons come to your home to care for you and/or support you in everyday life and in the household. The costs of Spitex are partly covered by the health insurance. Spitex also offers other services: for example, driving services or rental of crutches or wheelchairs.

You can do not register themselves with a Spitexbut a doctor must decide this. Before the Spitex care begins, the doctor clarifies what exactly you need.

For more information, please contact here.

11. Who will help me when I am old and can no longer live alone?

In old age there are various support services. One of them is Spitex. For example, you can get home help or nursing care from them. Spitex also organizes the fresh meal service: elderly, sick and disabled people get a hot lunch delivered to their home every day.

Also the foundation Pro Senectute delivers meals to the home in most cantons. In addition, Pro Senectute offers many other services for older people. This enables them to live at home for longer. Pro Senectute aims to promote and maintain the independence and quality of life of people over 60. Elderly people and their relatives receive free, confidential consultations at:

  • financial difficulties,
  • legal matters,
  • coping with life crises,
  • of leisure activities,
  • and with housing and relationship issues.

Maybe this help is not enough and you need assistance around the clock. Then a retirement center or a nursing home fits better for your needs.

In which Retirement or nursing home You will live depends on where you live. The Pro Senectute or your family doctor will advise you on the clarifications.

12. What services are available for older people in Switzerland?

Here you can order a free brochure "Growing older in Switzerland" in several languages.

Leisure activities in the canton of Obwalden: pro Senectute

Here you will find information in German, French or Italian about the generation 50plus, written by over 100 volunteers.

13. What can I do if I have mental health problems?

If you need help, you can also first talk to your Family doctor speak to. He or she can refer you to a professional. All counselors and psychological specialists are bound to the Confidentiality bound and may not disclose any information from you.

You can find quick help in psychological emergency situations here (Tel. 143).

Here you can download a brochure with addresses of foreign language psychotherapists.

In Bern, Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva, there is an outpatient clinic for victims of torture and war, where professional help is offered to those affected. More here.

14. Where can I find help anonymously?

Sometimes people need immediate advice in a crisis. Immediate help is provided by the organization Dargebotene Hand. It offers free counseling by phone, e-mail or chat ( You can call 143 in a crisis situation and speak to a member of staff: they will listen and can also help you decide how to proceed. The Dargebotene Hand is a contact point for everyone and is subject to complete anonymity.

On the Internet there are also special Counseling for youth. A useful website is for example It provides information in a serious way about topics that interest teenagers, young women and men: for example, relationships, sexuality, contraception or violence. You can ask questions yourself or read what others have asked. In various online forums, you can talk about specific problems as if you were in a self-help group. But beware, not every online forum is reputable.

Some parents are overwhelmed with their child, in a crisis or a stressful situation. For them there is the counseling center Parents' emergency line (tel. 044 261 88 66). It is available around the clock.

The Offered Hand offers free consultations by phone, email or chat.

For people who do not have a residence permit and do not want to visit public offices, there are at various places Health care providers for sans-papiers, which offer free care and advice.

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