The progressive aging of the population is becoming increasingly palpable. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2050, the proportion of people over 60 in the world will have doubled.
Medicine and the improvement of the quality of life advance, allowing a person to enjoy an average of 15 to 20 years of retirement.
This fact implies that services for the elderly acquire more and more relevance in our society, with the appearance of new quality spaces such as residential developments for the elderly, in which architectural design takes on an important role.
Let’s see the housing alternatives for the elderly.
Housing alternatives for the elderly
In previous publications we have treated the model of residences, sheltered apartments or social health centers, spaces designed to facilitate the day to day of the healthy person and also prepared so that eventually the person may be sick and well cared for.
On this occasion we will put in value the spaces of residence that also enhance social relations and community services, a factor increasingly necessary to combat the feared loneliness of older people.
Residential developments for the elderly
Residential developments for the elderly consist of sets of dwellings or sheltered floors, where residents are grouped according to the pathology they suffer or the severity of it.
In this sense, the sheltered floors can be adapted to the physical requirements of each specific case, such as housing for people with impaired vision, hearing or psychomotor skills.
Residential developments for the elderly maintain the independence of the resident but at the same time enjoy a series of specialized services designed to guarantee the safety and well-being of the user.
They are designed to be comfortable, safe and fully adapted. In addition to creating spaces for independence, they also have health facilities, care for the elderly, with adequate services for chronic patients or who suffer from several pathologies simultaneously.
However, there are not only health care spaces in this type of urbanization. If we go into any of them we will find spaces for leisure or relationship between users, to combat the dreaded loneliness of old age, betting on the offer of activities and the possibility of interacting with more people.
It is a model that is not yet widespread in Spain, although it does exist in other regions such as China or some Latin American countries.
One of the main drawbacks of residential developments for the elderly is, in fact, the high cost involved for pensioners of advanced age.
Another alternative that is growing is cohousing or senior collective housing. It is a concept that was born in Denmark in the 60s-70s, later moving to other countries in northern Europe and the United States.
In the same way as residential developments for the elderly, it consists of a different way of understanding the relationship between private space and common space, including private housing, common services and free space.
In the case of senior cohousing, older users are grouped to provide the urbanization with the services that best suit the needs of the users. It is common to find healthcare services such as clinics.
The difference between the senior cohousing model and the residential developments for the elderly that we mentioned previously is that, in the case of senior cohousing, it can be much cheaper and, therefore, accessible to retired people.
This type of spaces tend to work in a more cooperative and horizontal way, so users usually require less medical assistance and usually suffer from less serious illnesses.
They promote coexistence and human relations, without neglecting health and the creation of sanitary facilities within the enclosure, whether you are in the city or in more rural areas.
It is another alternative housing for the elderly that combines socialization and the tranquility of having medical attention when necessary. Therefore, it is necessary to design this type of space with great care so that people do not feel that they live in a hospital constantly, but at the same time they have direct access to health care.
As always, end by remembering CASA SOLO’s commitment to the design and construction of current and future healthcare spaces.
As architects, our work can contribute to improving the quality of life of people, integrating housing and health in the most natural way possible.