HOW LIVING BETTER THE OLD AGE EVEN WITH DISABILITY

 The new Primer of Ce.R.R.Co of 303 pages

Vivere meglio la vecchiaia

Older Persons, may suffer of chronics and multiples pathologies (comorbidity) that get them frails, when not disabled. It is the cost of ageing. Since the seventies it had been observed that Disabled Persons succeeded in reaching an old age, so that they could get comorbidity as well. Ce.R.R.Co, thanks to its 25 years experience in Geragogy and Gerontechnology, and being the head office of  So.M.I.Par. (Italian Medical Society of Paraplegia), did realize studies on this matter editing the results on the series of handbooks  “The season of great adults”. The goal had been increasing the Q.o.L. of Older and Disabled Persons: the Great Adults. The new Primer Vivere  meglio la vecchiaia e la disabilità” — How living better the old age even with disability – explains as much simple and positive as possible how to protect and to improve their own autonomy, housing and mobility in the built environment. The book – 303 pages — is not for sale, but Ce.R.R.Co. could mail upon request. For the time being it is only available in Italian.

The Great Adults are those who want to remain active, in spite of their age; active because conscious of their ability and of the empowerment that the today science and the technology are able to offer them. Almost half the world’s population lives in a state of reduced autonomy. More than 15% of the various causes are related to ageing. People affected can now find resources and capabilities within themselves that had only seemingly been lost. Autonomy, Housing and Mobility are today the most important indicators of the Quality of Life. The modern Geriatry and the Gerontechnology mustn’t only treat Elderly pathologies and disabilities, but rather take care of them, making them protagonists and not victims of an old age constructed, instead of suffered.

For that purpose, only a continue and constant education and information will be essential for all people over 65. This is the aim of “Geragogy” the modern Geriatric Science: the Psyco-Pedagogy of Ageing. We are working for that.

Housing.

In our subconscious the House represents our innermost nook; a nest and a safe shelter where we can satisfy our needs. The house can be considered like a private universe where we were born, we were grown up and became adults. Far this reason the house is a place whose transformation Reeps step with the transformation of the family who lives in it. The members of the family may change or they number may grow. This transformation is of fundamental importance because a house succeeds in maintaining its primary meaning only if it evolves together with its proprietors. Flexibility becomes the main aspect in the concept of space. Anyway “flexibility” must be put in relation with “Duration”. The house is a property which lasts for a long time and is subject to alterations. It must succeed in putting up with social changes technological development and plant engineering. The house must also get used to both psychological and physical changes in its owners and new ways of making use of it. Flexibility means the possibility of modifying the space and its component in order to make them more and more adequate to the needs of those people who live there. The house needs doing over. Our starting point of each project must be an in-depth knowledge of the needs of the people who live in the house consequently the space, equipment and building materials, as well furniture, devices, aids etc. must have precise requirements. In this primer the main rooms (kitchen, bath room, lounge and bed room) and some building devices (floors and fastenings) are taken into consideration; various suggestions are supplied for every room.

Device concerning measurements (width, length) and the organisation of the space (furniture, positioning, house equipment and furnishings).Our suggestions are meant to improve safety and favour an autonomous use of both space and equipment. In the second part of every chapter we suggest the fittest equipment furnishings and accessories for each room. As far as single appliance are concerned we would suggest traditional typologies and it will be our care to point out their advantages and disadvantages. Beyond traditional typologies, we also propose new solutions which are already on the market and can be easily bought. We also suggest the right position for all appliance inside the house or flat-to make them safer. The aim of this primer is to improve the organisation of the space, chose an put appliances in their right position. Anyway personal needs are always to be kept into account. It is quite easy to consult this manual awing to a colour gradation which distinguishes each room.

Autonomy.

Today, scientific knowledge, technological solutions, practical applications and means of communication allow us to do something about the lack of autonomy of the Elderly and Disabled people, through formative and welfare processes. The people affected can now find resources and capabilities within themselves that had only seemingly been lost. With regards to this objective, after having examined the obstacles to autonomy, this primer looks at the aids suitable to overcome them. It illustrates a few principles of physics, fundamental to identifying the points of force of the human body, on which to count in order to carry out movements without risk and with minimal effort.

The other topics addressed are: the ability to perform movements which enable the accomplishment of daily activities in good autonomy; training to this purpose; getting to know instruments and aids which are readily available and of possible personal use in making life easier at home and in maintaining one’s body in full working order, thus working together with carers. The text is fully illustrated, making its reading easier and more meaningful. Other topics are: Accessibility, the right to freedom of movement. Architectural Barriers are illustrated with drawings and cartoons, helping the reader to recognise them and, if they can, either avoid them or overcome them, possibly with the help of aids made for this purpose.

Gerontechnology, the science devoted to the study and development of technical equipment and environmental projects that can improve the quality of life of the elderly. From furniture to aids for everyday life, from cars to public transport, from the building industry to systems engineering to town planning. Gerontechnology also searches for new methods and new instruments to improve the lives of those people who grow old in their own homes. Even the hospital can be transferred to the home, from the staff to the various technologies. In this way the effectiveness of the therapy will be helped along by well-known, familiar and loved surroundings, those of one’s own house. Experience has shown that a person who makes use of technology doesn’t become dependent on it, but rather establishes a certain relationship with it. A Suitable House, Domotic and Aids: The book treats and illustrates many examples of integration and fitting-out, furniture with integrated technology, of bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms to make them more comfortable, accessible and safer and to be able to use them with the greatest autonomy possible thanks to the aids, instruments that have been designed and built to facilitate and develop autonomy. The “smart house” equipped with control elements, automatic functions and memory run by microchips and real computer, allow one to easily check and operate functions and equipment.

Training for Autonomy: increasingly, seniors want to and can be protagonists of their own lives and masters of their own choices. They can train themselves, learn how to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing for as long as possible and living in their own homes, adapting them to suit their new needs. This book also wants to offer its contribution to them.

Mobility.

The presence of elderly people in metropolitan regions is very noticeable, palpable. It is enough to observe any public park in any city quarter to understand the size of the problem. Often there are people who still have a lot of energy to spend, both physical and mental, which in some way could be put to the service of society. Thus we find ourselves with a high percentage of elderly people in the population but we can no longer think of a 65-year-old as elderly. At an older age the truly serious problems of ageing begin: more or less rapid phenomena of decline in physical and mental health and consequently in the quality of social life. The author has set himself various goals in this book, in particular: * that of supplying an example and some suggestions to all those elderly people who think they are no longer useful to society, who think they can no longer have an active social life, who let themselves go day after day resigned to the worsening of their physical, mental and, as a consequence, social condition. The example proposed is that of a grandfather, “Grandpa Etto”, who is what we could define as a “super granddad” particularly active and capable of not letting himself be set aside.

* That of bringing the problems of the elderly to the attention of the general public and in particular to the public authorities. To make their needs and their potential known in order to help make them part of social and productive life and avoid their alienation. To achieve these goals, rather than the usual method based on data and too learned scientific arguments, the author has taken a different path. He has tried to take a spirited direction, which tells the story of a week in the life of this very special grandfather and of his diary, where he notes down all his engagements and which, like all diaries, also contains information, quotes and sayings. The day’s stories are told by someone “off stage”, with interventions, thoughts and opinions of the protagonist.

 

Authors

 

FABRIZIO ASTRUA

Engineer, Associate Professor in Technical Architecture, Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at the Turin Polytechnic and its branch in Vercelli. Director of studies of the post-graduate specialisation course “Planning and Architectonic Barriers”. His research work is in the field of architectonic and urban accessibility, planning buildings for residential, social or entertainment uses. He pays particular attention to aspects relating to the control and improvement of the quality of the environment, aimed at assisting aged and disabled users. He runs a professional studio where he works on integrated town planning and construction schemes. He has written and edited a number of books on the subject of accessibility, such as: Various Authors Architectonic Barriers, a design for man (edited by F. Astrua, R. Rustichelli, F. Zampicinini) D.I.S.E.T., published by BeMa, 1991

 

DARIO BRACCO

Retired entrepreneur, Sociologist Doctor, Registered in the Panel of Expert for Hospital and Medical Equipment and Clinical Governance. Professional Journalist. He is member of various research groups and International Associations, i.e.  Soc. Of Gerontechnology, Medical Society of Paraplegia, World Homecare Ass. Lecturer in specialisation Courses for Nurses, post-graduate specialisation course “Planning and Architectonic Barriers” for Engineers and Architects. He is payng particular attention to aspects relating to the control and improvement Elderly and Disabled quality of life. He has written and edited a number of publications on the subject of Hospital and Medical Technology, accessibility environment, architectural barriers etc. He is the President of Ce.R.R.Co, Centre Ricerche e Relazioni Cornaglia of Turin, a “non profit and not politic” cultural organisation. 

SILVIA BRACCO

Architect, who run a professional studio where she works on projects of health specialisation degree upon post graduated courses and master. She pays particular attention to aspects relating to the control and improvement of the quality of life of aged and disabled users. She has written and edited a number of books on that subject such as: various Authors “A new Geriatric Residential Home for aged and disabled people” (Offset, Torino 1996) and has co-operated for the magazine “Pegaso — the alternative ability”: the house magazine of “Consulta of People in difficulty”. She is also member of the working group “Piedmont for all!” which is investigating the accessibility and mapping all the territory of Piedmont, for the Olympic Games Committee.

EUGENIA MONZEGLIO

Architect, Professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the Turin Polytechnic. Her research work is in the field of architectonic and urban accessibility, planning buildings for residential, social or entertainment uses, mainly oriented towards the therapeutic value of the space organisation for children, disabled and aged people. She has written and edited a number of books on the subject of accessibility, such as: Architectonic Barriers (Testo&Immagine, Torino,2001); Projecting the Quality of Elderly Institution (Franco Angeli, Milano 1997); Architecture for Alzheimer (SEEd, Torino, 1998), etc. She is also member of the working group “Piedmont for all!” which is investigating the accessibility and mapping all the territory of Piedmont, for the Olympic Games Committee. Astrua, F Planning and Architectonic Barriers: conditioning and functional, distributive and structural hints for the planning of urban spaces and buildings Compagnia di San Paolo,

 

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