The Model of Quality Aging in Place in Slovenia
Western society is characterized by increasing aging. Compared to other regions, the problem of aging is especially acute in Europe. Slovenia is no exception in this regard. Moreover, Slovenian society is aging even faster than the European average. The problem of population aging is so severe that it has become an important political topic because countries are facing increased financial needs to provide appropriate housing and services for the elderly. In Slovenia it is especially alarming that the country has so far primarily developed the institutional form of housing provision for the elderly, which is the most expensive among all forms of housing provision. On the other hand, Slovenia is characterized by a high rate of owner-occupied housing and low population mobility.
In the European Union and elsewhere there is an increasing awareness that this problem cannot be solved with models used to date; instead, it will be necessary to develop new solutions and introduce new, more effective, and more economical forms of care and services. One of the ways in which society has responded to such issues is the idea that the elderly should be able to remain in their home environments as long as possible, where they would be capable of leading their lives as independently as possible with the best possible quality of life. “Aging at home” or “aging in place” is a concept that has been the main topic of numerous research programs as well as strategic plans and action plans in many countries around the globe, including the European Union, and it has also been supported and promoted by the World Health Organization. The goal is to reduce the growing costs of housing provision for the elderly and of carrying out services and thus reduce the pressure on state funds for meeting the needs of the aging population. This idea is widely supported in society because it is in line with the wishes and needs of the elderly. Most of them would like to remain at home, in the same familiar living and social environment, and they would also like to retain their independence and self-reliance as long as possible. Living in one’s own home also has a number of positive effects, especially on the wellbeing and good psychophysical condition of the elderly, which can postpone their use of institutionalized care. The elderly, however, see institutionalization as a very traumatic experience and mostly have a negative attitude towards it.
The concept of aging in place is especially of interest to housing and spatial planning because high-quality aging in place can be ensured by a) adapting the built environment and b) providing accessible community support services that allow elderly people to live independently. Accordingly, this research project aims to explore various aspects of aging in place, especially the needs and desires of the elderly in this regard, the obstacles and weaknesses they face, and the differences between them according to their individual (regional/local, urban/rural) environments.
The main objective of this project is to determine the optimal conditions for quality aging in place and the support services required for the elderly to remain full members of society for as long as possible and thus actively involved in social life, all supported by a system that is financially sustainable for the government. This objective will be realized using various methods and systematically structured work, which will take place in six work packages. With this kind of organization and a top-notch project team it will be possible to complete the project in three years (2017–2020). The results of the project will comply with the goals of EU and Slovenian strategic and other documents (e.g., the Europe 2020 Strategy, and so on).