Care for Elderly Through Meaningful Architecture

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‘Care’ is a broad term and it has multiple/various/divrese meanings associated with it. In the specific context of Elderly, it is best understood as protecting the rights of the elderly and addressing to their physical, social and psychological needs. This dissertation report focusses on the care for Elderly that can be boosted with the help of meaningful Architecture. It identifies and analysis how Architecture can be used as a platform to enhance care for the elderly. This study not only provides solution to the understudied pragmatic issues, such as accessibility, environmental adaption, convenience, safety and security but also seeks to address the social and behavioral issues of the elderly.

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The built and natural environments have the ability to influence the elderly, with positive or negative outcomes. Thus architectural elements and design factors are focused upon to design a best fit composition in order to achieve an effective environment that completely addresses the needs of the elderly and simultaneously that of a wider public. The end result is the design of development that boosts care for the Elderly. However, such a development may only prove to be useful to such a cause when the architecture it presents is meaningful to its occupants.

This dissertation illuminates the theories related to Ageing, Social integration and Meaningful Architecture. It explores various aspects of ageing. It unpacks the physical, social and psychological impact of ageing. It introduces the issues and needs related to the Elderly and apprises architectural approach required to promote care for the Elderly.

Ageing is a process that presents itself in every individual of the global population. It is a continuous pattern and is related to specific nature of an individual organism. With the growing age there comes notable changes in the physical and mental characteristics of a person. These changes are of varying degrees and are dependent on mixture of factors. Due to these changes the aged have to adjust their lifestyles and sometimes also the location where they reside. This unexpected adjustments at this stage of life can be quite disturbing and also result in dismay in the aged.

There is no general agreement of age at which an individual becomes old and each individual ages differently as a result of their physical and mental health. For the purpose of the study ‘Elderly’ are considered as people above an age of sixty who require some form of care but are free from serious health disorders that requires constant care and medications.

Just as the social care is an important ingredient in the life of an elderly so is the environment they inhabit in. As much as genes are responsible for the physical and mental health of a person so is the interaction between an individual and surrounding environment in shaping the human beings and society as whole. There is not only a need for additional care for the elderly but jointly environments that offer superior quality of care and address the combined psychological, social and physical needs of the occupants.

As an individual we do not have the power to change the genes we have inherited but as an Architect we have the ability to create environments in which they function. This ability to change the environment provides us the opportunity to create environments that are meaningful to its occupants.

The Intent of the Dissertation- Aims and Objectives of the Research

The intent of my dissertation is to bring out the real importance of the living environment in leading an independent life and active ageing of the elderly. Through this research I want to prove that even in the last of the life one can be happy, independent, and active and can also maintain social networks (ageing gracefully).

Aim: The fundamental aim of my research is to examine ageing and its relationship with living environment and establish a set of architectural principles that are developed through understanding the issues related to care of the Elderly.


  • To explore the key concepts related to elderly to understand how an architectural space can be created in a way that effectuates active ageing, strength of weak ties and a positive sense of place.
  • To identify the primary needs of the elderly that requires care as well as the needs of their care takers, family and the surrounding community.
  • To outline how these needs can be appropriately met in the form of built environment in order to draw positive response from the occupants.
  • Utilize the associated findings
  • Providing spaces to the elderly according to their needs and requirements for their betterment and convenience.

Definitions and meanings

  • Care: In the context of this dissertation care is provision of what is necessary for health, welfare, mantainence and protection of someone. It is just not limited to care from family and health professionals but also caring for the needs of elderly to maintain independence and live an active life in community and built environment.
  • Elderly: ‘Elderly’ are considered as people above an age of sixty who require some form of care but are free from serious health disorders that requires constant care and medications.
  • Meaningful Architecture: Architecture may be considered meaningful when it addresses the need of its occupants and evokes meanings that are inclined with their imperatives and that of the environment.
  • Gerontology: The study of multi- and interdisciplinary research in aging that is primarily related the biological, psychological and social aspects of the ageing process.
  • Platform: in this context it serves as a basis to promote a particular concept.

The Research Question(s)

  1. How can care for elderly be fostered through Architecture?
  2. What are the different needs of the Elderly?
  3. What are the main considerations in developing a living environment for the elderly?( requirements concerning elderly independent living)
  4. How do principles of universal design (meaningful Architecture) help in this process?
  5. Scope and Limitation of the Research

Scope of Research:

  • To explore the social, physical and psychological impacts of ageing
  • To know issues/needs related to the elderly
  • Study architectural approach required to promote care for elderly.

Limitation of Research:

This study does not propose that architecture can reverse the cycle of ageing but rather that it can have a positive impact on the lives of the elderly when configured successfully.

  • Ageing is an incredibly vast field of study and includes biological, behavioral and Sociological aspects. To maintain a precise study relating care for the elderly to meaningful Architecture, only key concepts from gerontology shall be assessed in terms of their relevance towards improving areas of the built environment for the aged.
  • The study shall under no circumstance commit to conclusions that are beyond the field of architecture that should be dealt with by medical practitioners and social workers in the field of study related to the elderly. The study will rather utilize the conclusions of such study and apply it to the design of the built environment.

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