Uni project aims to help communities

Uni project aims to help communities

A view of a renovated community park in Phraeng Phuthon in Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district. The ground was smoothened as part of the Chula ARi project to make the outdoor environment safer for the elderly. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
A view of a renovated community park in Phraeng Phuthon in Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district. The ground was smoothened as part of the Chula ARi project to make the outdoor environment safer for the elderly. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Elderly care does not only provide health checks and guidelines on self-care to senior citizens but it also improves safety and convenience in the environment they are living in.

Apichan Wanla, 52, president of the Phraeng Phuthon elderly community in Bangkok's old town, was grateful for a recent landscape renovation that turned uneven ground in his community into a common area where elderly members can exercise and socialise.

The ground's surface is now flat and huge tree roots that were exposed were trimmed to prevent people from tripping over them.

A Chulalongkorn University team that supervised the renovation project also provided advice to families with elderly people to improve their homes to make them safer for seniors such as by adjusting toilets and staircases to prevent accidents.

The team from "Chulalongkorn University Platform for Ageing Research Innovation", or Chula ARi, which was established in 2018 as a multidisciplinary-approach project, designed plans to improve the quality of life of the elderly.

Bang-on Sachat, 78, said she was glad to know that elderly people are still valued by society and she felt even more encouraged to continue giving back to society.

Her wish now is to have similar elderly care projects carried out in all parts of the country.

Like many other elderly people, Ms Bang-on has high blood pressure and cholesterol, two issues she's trying to live with by eating healthy and having a balanced diet.

As for recreational activities, she enjoys singing with friends at her community's elderly centre almost every afternoon.

Staff from Chula Ari regularly visit the community to provide the community's elderly members with basic health checks.

Chiamchit Saplaima, 82, a resident of the Din Daeng elderly community, said she appreciates the health services, adding she's always happy to see Chula ARi staff members come to her community.

Ms Chiamchit has to live with heart disease. She moved from the Banthat Thong area of Bangkok to live in Din Daeng more than 50 years ago. And now that her children have grown up, she keeps herself busy and energetic by opening a coffee stall that doubles as a place to meet her friends.

Assoc Prof Somnuke Gulsatitporn, who works for Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Allied Health Sciences and joined a recent visit by a Chula ARi team to the Din Daeng community, said his role was collecting body mass and chart ageing health indices of elderly members in the community.

The data he collected are compared with those from the previous year to measure the healthiness of each member, he said.

Fifty-two percent of these elderly people have high blood pressure and 19.5% of them have diabetes, while many have rather low lung capacities due to either bad air quality or lack of physical exercise, he said.

Thailand has rapidly become an ageing society but the development of a national system for taking care of the kingdom's elderly population is still underway and progress is slow, said Prof Vipan Prachuabmoh, a lecturer with the College of Population Studies of Chulalongkorn University.

Recently, Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Anek Laothamatas agreed that a project should be initiated to carry out studies and activities that empower retirees and enhance their ability to live a healthy and happy life.

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