Cramped living spaces prevent the maintenance of fitness and even shorten the lives of the elderly.
Housing congestion is common in service buildings for the elderly built in the early 2000s. However, the body needs daily exercise, especially in the rehabilitation phase after illness. The living environment should also inspire you to get moving. If there is no mobility, one quickly ends up as a bed patient.
Rehabilitation is an important part of nursing and care work. The lack of planned rehabilitation is often linked to the fact that the elderly do not have accommodation that promotes rehabilitation after the acute phase of illness. Cramped spaces allow poor self-sufficiency to be maintained, let alone promoted. It’s more about attitudes than money, because promoting older people’s ability to function is cost-effective. Living space would also reduce the extensive workload of carers.
The financier of the service housing has been the Housing Finance and Development Center Ara, which approves construction projects.
The design was based on a basic square of 20 square meters, each of which must include a 4-5 square meter wheelchair toilet. The space thus forms a six-square-meter vestibule. In practice, the elderly are left with only about ten square meters of movement space, four of which the bed takes up. There is about six square meters of free, hard-to-furnish space, and this also includes a possible wheelchair or rollator path to the bed. Furniture related to normal living can no longer fit.
Space as such is a factor in increasing the comfort of living, but is essential for post-illness rehabilitation or maintenance of physical fitness. Municipal Sector Development Foundation report according to the cramped space is justified by lower construction costs. However, the report’s calculations show that in a building that costs 2,000 euros per square meter, only the additional space that increases the floors and ceiling costs about 600 euros per square meter. Space savings do not significantly reduce costs. Instead, congestion worsens the condition and requires more work from caregivers to increase costs.
Expanding the space is essential if the old man is to be mobile. The space must also be extended beyond your own room. It is not appropriate to bring all services into the room. According to researches (for example, Ruuskanen-Parrukoski 2018) the restaurant, gym, sauna and lounge are already important for social relations, and service block-type housing inspires the elderly to move outside their own room as well.
Elderly an appreciative rehabilitation culture is significantly cheaper than a dignified bed-bound care.
In forming the whole of social and health care, it is the last moment to solve the problems of rehabilitation and space. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health must develop binding housing standards for the elderly and support cultural change in rehabilitative and cost-effective housing block-type housing services for the elderly.
Chairman, Finnish Senior Movement Association
Doctor of Social Sciences, Helsinki
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