UM project offers housing for the elderly

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Malaya will set up assisted living homes for the elderly and use technology such as motion sensors or activity trackers to ensure the safety and well-being of their elderly residents.

The initiative comes under the university’s commercial unit and is expected to be up and running within five years, said acting vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud (pic).

“Our research has shown a strong correlation between the mental and physical well-being of elderly people. When they are physically incapacitated, they get depressed because they aren’t able to move around or interact with their friends. From there, things go downhill really quickly.

“Our focus is to help the elderly remain mobile. We want to offer them a housing option that will not isolate them from other people even if they live on their own. At our proposed assisted living homes, they can interact with their peers at any time,” said Prof Awang.

“We will also make use of technology to detect if an elderly resident has had a fall or if they have been inactive for a period of time,” Dr Awang said at the launch of the Asean Regional Conference  on Elder Abuse and Neglect organised by the university’s law faculty yesterday.

Assisted living homes, while uncommon in Malaysia, can be found in countries like Australia and the United States as an option for the elderly who may need help with dressing, bathing, eating or going to the toilet but do not need intensive medical and nursing care.

The university’s assisted living home initiative is in collaboration with several private companies.“I can’t reveal too much as yet but we hope that this will take off. To be honest, as this concept of elderly housing is something new to Malaysia, we don’t know what the demand will be. So, we will be starting with one community facility first in the Klang Valley and gauge the market from there,” he said.

The assisted housing scheme is an outcome of research by the university’s Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative (PEACE) and Social Security Research Centre.

UM , Housing , Elderly , Malaysia