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Refurbishment of dwellings for the aged

By : Arto Saari, Pirjo Sipilainen

Many elderly people have great difficulty in managing themselves in their present apartments. The situation will only get worse when the number of elderly people increases. A procedure is needed in order to make the renovation of such flats more suitable for elderly people. This kind of method was developed and tested in a real pilot location during the year 2001. It is possible to convert present residential buildings to meet the needs of elderly people with the help of this method. In this developed specialized method, the elderly peoples' and the helpers' points of view are given more weight than in building repair projects that have been traditionally carried out. It is essential to draw up alternative ways of refurbishment and to compare their functionality and costs to provide a sound foundation for the decision-making process. In this method, profiles of the elderly inhabitants, describing their different needs in a residential environment, are used. Even a massive renovation is more worthwhile than having the support of people in an institution. Although the elderly or disabled person received home-help service twenty-five times and home nursing five times a month, living in a residential care facility would be more than twice as expensive as living in a hospital ward, and nearly three times as expensive as living in an appropriately renovated house. To invest in such repairs, which enable the later flexible equipping of apartments in accordance with the elderly persons' wishes, is worthwhile. The basic changes in and arrangement of the building should be first corrected. The arrangement of a building, such as moving the walls, are worth making in connection with large repairs, but it is not worth installing special furniture in all the apartments if it is not needed. New means of financing must be found for such renovations.

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