Glasgow City Council is building supported accommodation and four day care centres.
The homes, which will be sited across the city, will provide high quality en-suite rooms for 600 people, many of them frail.
They will replace 15 council homes for the elderly that are no longer seen as being suitable. Many of those have no en-suite rooms and involve buildings that would be hugely expensive to convert to modern standards.
The first home being built is in Bardowie Street, Possilpark.
Others will follow in Leithland Avenue, Pollok; Prospecthill Road, Toryglen; and Springfield Road, at the site of the Athletes' Village in the East End.
It will be used to house athletes during the Commonwealth Games but will be converted into a care home once the Games are over.
New day care centres will also be built in Possilpark, Pollok and Castlemilk Drive.
Work is under way to identify sites for a care home and day care centre in the west of the city.
Although the new homes will be the size of small hospitals, they have been designed to create as much of a community feel as possible.
They will be made up of eight units, each providing 15 bedrooms but there will also be large and small communal areas, social spaces and specialist facilities, such as treatment rooms and hairdressing salons.
The aim is to allow elderly residents as much independence and privacy as possible while providing them the opportunity to mix with other people.
A council spokesman said: "Every room is en-suite, which was not normally the case in the past.
"That means people are able to maintain their privacy and dignity."
The smaller details to help residents include ensuring they have their own small fridge so medicines can be stored safely in their room.
All five care homes will be environmentally friendly, with high levels of insulation, solar panels and heat recycling schemes.
The sites for the homes were decided by taking into account the location, public transport links and local amenities.
The spokesman said: "A fantastic amount of thought has gone into how people will live their lives in these spaces. We want residents to make the most of their rooms and make them their space so they are not austere homes but places where people want to live."
The council's aim is for people to live in their own homes as long as possible with appropriate support.
But social work bosses say the care homes will suit people who are struggling to cope alone and need more intensive levels of care.
Matt Kerr, the city council's spokesman for social work, welcomed the start of work on the first new development. He said it was a tremendous step forward to see work on the homes begin in earnest.
HE added: "Everyone involved in getting the project to this stage will be very pleased there are finally boots on the ground and construction staff are able to get on with the job.
"The homes and day care centres will be a credit to Glasgow and will greatly enhance the care and support we can offer our older people.
"The homes have been very carefully designed so they will be future proofed against care standards for generations to come.
"The homes will also ensure the council has a strong presence in the care home sector, which will help us secure best value for residents and council tax payers.
"By building the homes we are also achieving our ambition of targeted support for the vulnerable, but it also means a boost for skills and the economy at a difficult time."
Social work bosses insist a great deal of care will be taken to ensure residents find the move from their existing homes to their new accommodation as easy and stress-free as possible.
It is hoped the last of the new properties will be ready in 2015.
vivienne.nicoll@ evening times. co.uk.