To improve home safety and quality of life for the impoverished elderly, the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly has been running a house repair program for the elderly across four counties since 2011, funded by Formosa Plastics Group (FPG).
A 70-year-old man surnamed Chen (陳) who has cataracts was sent back to his house in a remote town in Chiayi County by a nursing home where he could no longer afford to stay.
The road leading to Chen’s place was so primitive and in such disrepair that a social worker had to deliver his meals with a rope. He did not have bathing facilities, and with his poor eyesight he often had to answer nature’s calls near his bed.
Chen’s living environment was poorly maintained for three years until the federation’s house repair program intervened a year ago, mending the road and installing motion sensor lights, banisters and bathing facilities.
Federation president Lin Chao-sen (林朝森) said that although the government has offered subsidies for house repair for the low-income elderly, the threshold conditions and the limited budget have hindered many.
Donations made by the FPG, which has supported elderly-friendly projects for years, is therefore especially heartening, he said.
FPG vice chairwoman Susan Wang (王瑞華) told the press conference that “society has a responsibility to help the elderly live a good quality life,” and that because falls are a major risk factor for older people, FPG has supported the house repair program with NT$10 million (US$341,000) a year since 2011.
“A total of 177 households have received house repair services since the beginning of the project and 44 are still under evaluation. Of the 221, 66 percent applied for roof waterproofing, 38.9 percent for bathroom remodeling and nearly 8 percent for barrier-free environment facilities,” federation secretary-general Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) said.
“More than 60 percent of the seniors in a survey conducted by the federation said they have fallen in either their bathroom or living room in the past six months,” Wu added.
The majority of the seniors polled also believe that it was easier and safer to perform their daily activities after the repairs, and that the renovations had lessened the burden on their caregivers, Wu said.