Tag Archive - living

An innovative approach to eldercare

English book reading event at the Ibasho cafe in Japan.

When you get older, you may need eldercare assistance. With this in mind, where would you prefer to live – in a hospital-like setting, in a hotel-like setting or within your own home amongst a familiar community? These three choices reveal the transition in eldercare models, and how we are now moving towards a new model, what I call the ‘Ibasho’ concept.

With the traditional institutional model, seniors are cared by medical professionals in an efficient, hygienic and safe hospital-like setting. However, seniors often do not want to be viewed as ‘patients’, so this led to the hospitality model, where seniors live in hotel-like environments, benefiting from personalised care. This ‘too-perfect’ scenario was also not ideal, as seniors had no familiarity or control over their environment.

This has led to the Ibasho model, a holistic, integrated concept, where people age within their familiar community, involving a range of people, such as family, medical professionals, caregivers, neighbours and other elders. Elders are now viewed as useful members of the community – people who can contribute their wisdom and experience, rather than as a patient or unwanted burden. This requires a social mindset change in the way elders are perceived and cared for.

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Many options for US seniors to live

A survey said that from 1990 to 1994, the seniority ratio fad multiplied from one in 25 individuals to one in eight. By 2030, the US would see a growth of 2.8 percent in the number of aged people. Most people fail to plan ahead when they get to the golden years. They live their life from day-to-day until something happens and they need to change their plans in midstream. Sometimes this change will result in a change in living situations.

It can be stressful and if unplanned, very upsetting to the senior who may have hoped to stay in their own home and live their life to the fullest. But even with the new plans, seniors can live a full, satisfying life, but maybe in different circumstances then they had hoped. Here are different living options available these days in the US:


• Senior assistant living – This is a wonderful way to enjoy independence, but have extra help available. These resort-type facilities are all over the country and most people love the experience. The senior lives in his or her own luxury apartment with his or her mate. Often there is a small kitchen, bathroom, living room and at least one bedroom. The faculty has a large dining room where meals are served. It is similar to an upscale dining room and residents are treated to gourmet meals. Activities are offered on a daily basis and the senior can join in when he or she chooses. Ballroom dancing, parties and outings are all offered as part of the living plan. The cost is reasonable and includes the apartment, food and all activities. Seniors often find this to be a wonderful way to live and wonder why they didn’t move in sooner.


• Nursing homes – This is usually the highest possible level of care and many people resist this option. Often there is no another choice though because the senior requires specific care. The residents often share rooms and are offered assistance with personal care. They usually eat in a central dining area and activities are offered to those who are healthy enough to join in. One of the biggest differences in this type of care to the rest is the fact that there is a high level of medical care. A physician is in charge of each resident and usually registered nurses are available at all times. It is also possible to get physical or occupational therapy at most of these facilities. Often this type of care is only temporary and the senior moves into a more permanent situation when their medical needs are stabilised like a permanent old-age home where they would be treated with care and love.

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Away from misery island

Professor Dr Hans Becker, CEO of Humanitas Foundation in the Netherlands, shares that away from misery island is the way to go. He is a driving force behind the concept of ‘Apartments for Life’, Agelessvoice finds out more about this concept from him:

Can you share the ‘Apartments for Life’ concept?

Fifteen years ago, the Dutch older people started demanding an alternative to old-style nursing homes and hostels. They wanted to be able to go on living independently and stay in their own communities for as long as they could even if their health declined and they could no longer get around.

‘Apartments for Life’ is a response to this challenge, pioneered by the Humanitas Foundation in Rotterdam in the mid-1990s. It began with 350 apartments in three complexes in 1995 and has really taken off.

So how does it work?

Human happiness – that is the business we are in – is not about ‘cure and care’. There is not much to cure when someone has Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or even arthritis in the knees. The care elements have to be there, but they should be in the background. The ‘Apartments for Life’ philosophy has four basic values:

  • Boss of your own life.
  • Use it or lose it.
  • Extended family approach.
  • A yes culture.

The Humanitas approach is that residents should be the boss of their own life, with their own front door so they are truly a resident, not just ‘staying’ in a room that belongs to an institution. The Humanitas model for ‘Apartments for Life’ includes carefully designed apartment complexes, lived in and partly run by independent older people, and offering services on a needs basis. These include medical, daily care, recreational, educational and social, up to and including nursing home-type care.

The apartments (minimum 72 sqm, three rooms – the social norm for building requirements in the Netherlands), may be purchased, or rented. The apartments are designed in such a way that – even with a wheelchair – the sink (variable height sinks), the electricity cupboard, and the letterbox, are within reach, and barriers such as thresholds, narrow doorways, awkwardly opening French doors, etc, are avoided. Living arrangements, as a total living concept, is not the only contributing factor to an individual’s happiness, a sense of “belonging” is also crucial and through our approach, we have achieved this.

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