Adaptation of housing for the elderly
In the initial part of the study some characteristics of the elderly, underlying their relevant needs for various provisions, were examined. Since the beginning of this century, in accordance with government policies, many forms of provision have been developed, expanded and made available for the elderly to meet their needs. Recent government policy is to keep the elderly in the community and preferably in their existing homes and this is also what most elderly people wish. Adaptation of the existing dwellings is a recent development and one of the provisions to achieve the objectives of this policy. However, there exists insufficient data about the effectiveness of adaptations in meeting the requirements of the elderly relevant to their existing dwellings and enabling them to remain longer in their existing homes. Thus, to tackle the problem with the aid of the existing theoretical concepts and ideas, a theoretical framework, including a number of testable propositions, was developed. The propositions are primarily relevant to the relationship between the physical settings (i.e. dwellings, adaptations), and the abilities of the elderly in various daily activities and their requirements for help from others in the activities concerned which might be particularly relevant to their ability to stay at home. Dynamism of the requirements of the elderly, as a possible crucial factor, is particularly taken into account in these relationships. Then, to test the propositions empirically, fieldwork was planned and carried out in fifty three cases and detailed data collected by employing physical measurements, structured questionnaires, personal interviews and examination of records. In addition specific classifications were used to categorize the dwellings and the persons in the sample. The results indicated that adaptations of the physical settings made a large positive impact upon the abilities of the elderly and their help requirements in various daily activities; this, in turn, in certain circumstances, appeared to increase their ability to stay at home. However, this impact was partially reduced by the factor of the dynamism of the requirements. Nevertheless, the research found a number of points which appeared to be particularly crucial to minimise this adverse affect and to improve the effectiveness of the provision of adaptations. While the results led to the conclusion that where appropriate adaptations are provided most of the requirements of a great majority of the elderly can be met and they can be enabled to stay longer in their existing homes, some elderly, particularly those more frail and living alone may also need to be provided with help or services from the local authorities.