Dubai will soon get a state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre serving adults and the elderly. Once operational, the centre located in Al Safa 2 will be the first of its kind in the UAE and the region and will work towards providing better quality of life to the country’s ageing population, said a senior official with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).Dr Salwa Al Suwaidi, geriatrician at the DHA and project manager of the Dubai Rehabilitation Centre, said the centre will cater to the needs of patients who need to regain partial or total independence. It will have a capacity to cater to the needs of 30 inpatients and 20 outpatients.Expected to be launched in early 2012, the centre is said to be the only one in the UAE that has all rehabilitative services, from hydrotherapy to speech therapy under one roof.Dr Al Suwaidi said that post-rehabilitation, a therapist from the centre will visit the patient’s home and evaluate the patient’s surroundings to see if it is patient-friendly. She added that, if required, the therapists will continue to provide home-rehabilitation services for a short period of time until patients adjust to the environment they live in.The centre will provide physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional care, hydrotherapy and psychological counselling.Dr Al Suwaidi said in 2010, the Emirati population above the age of 60 in Dubai was five per cent. By 2015, this is expected to rise to 6.8 per cent and by 2025 this number will increase to 11 per cent.“Caring for the elderly population is in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”She said as a society, the UAE pays great respect and emphasis to caring for their elder family members. “While we already have medical services for the elderly, we are now looking at providing specialised services for them.” The DHA said specialists from the authority recently took part in an advanced course about caring for the elderly that was organised by The Middle East Academy for Medicine of Ageing in Doha, Qatar.The course titled “Advanced Post Graduate Course III, Health Care Services for the Elderly — Challenges in long term care Organisation and Management” was held to discuss specific criteria which need to be taken into consideration while caring for the elderly.Dr Al Suwaidi gave a presentation about the UAE’s experience in conducting integrated elderly care programmes. The presentation highlighted all the services available for the elderly in the UAE, including medical and social care.She highlighted that the healthcare services in the UAE have undergone tremendous transformation and the health sector has seen significant progress since the formation of the UAE 40 years ago.This has directly resulted in an increase in the lifespan as medicine has progressed. She said 40 years ago, the average life expectancy of the population of the UAE was 53 years. Today, it is 74.8 years for men and 77.6 years for women in Dubai.Dr Al Suwaidi said that this has also resulted in the direct increase in the number of elderly in the UAE. For instance, in 1995, the total number of Emiratis above the age of 60, in the UAE was 24,520. In 2005, this number increased to 64,278, which is a two and a half fold increase in a span of a decade.“As medicine progresses, life expectancy increases and this directly results in an increase in the number of elderly population in the country,” she said.