Improving housing for the aged

Providing housing for the elderly
Improving housing for older people
As standards of living and health improve, people enjoy longer life spans and survive a variety of disabilities. This results in a large proportion of the population being elderly, disabled or both. As longevity increases, the number of people living beyond retirement age will almost equal the number of people in the workforce. It is almost certain that all households will at some time have a person who is elderly or disabled. The population will consist increasingly of individuals with varying needs affecting the demands placed on housing.

Important as adequate housing is to all people in providing protection from the elements and in offering space for sleeping, cooking, eating, recreation and leisure, it is insufficient unless set within a framework of basic infrastructure and public services. For the elderly, who are increasingly unable to meet their own needs and who are often dependent on others for household services, infrastructure components become indispensable to personal well-being.

The following planning principles are proposed to ensure that housing for the elderly allows for integration, engagement and opportunities for contribution: Housing (1) dispersed throughout the community in aggregations of no more than twenty to thirty units; not situated in undesirable area, or as land use of last resort; (2) within walking distance of desirable amenities - churches, libraries, museums, places of higher education, athletic facilities, etc. (3) attached to opportunities for contribution - combined with a kindergarten or library, for instance; (4) easily accessible by public transportation and in close proximity to the residents' original communities to allow for frequent visits from friends and relatives, especially other older people; (5) a visual fit with local housing in order that the elderly do not feel stigmatized or segregated. To allow the elderly to live independently at a fraction of the cost of institutionalization, housing would optimally meet the specific physical and psychological needs of the elderly, with: (1) availability of at-home medical help, social services and special transportation; (2) suitability for wheelchair use and handicapped accessibility (or at least capable of being retrofitted at low cost); (3) a high degree of security, because older people are not only more anxious but they fall easier prey to those with ill intent; (4) proximity to residents' community of origin, because the elderly find it difficult to acclimatize to an unfamiliar community.
1. The right kind of housing built in the right place will allow older members of society to participate, contribute and add to the enjoyment of life by young and old alike.

2. We can ill afford to warehouse and institutionalize an increasing segment of the population. The present segregated housing for older persons either provides substandard accommodation or else draws a high level of duplication of amenities.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal