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AIP Bulletin

For people seeking information, reassurance and solutions to best age in place in the home, and community, of their choice.

February 2010

Quote of the Month

“Most people overestimate the amount of change that will occur in two years and underestimate the change that will occur in 10 years.”

Bill Gates
Could Visitability Be More Important Than Healthcare?

By Barb Manning

According to the United Cerebral Palsy’s State of Disability there are 54 million people living with disabilities in America. The United States has a generally aging population; 2005 Census statistics indicate that there are 78.2 million aging Baby Boomers in America. At any time, an individual can develop a temporary disability. Unintentional falls are in the top ten of the list of injuries leading to an emergency room visit or hospitalization.

Visitable home has no-step entry.
Photo By: Emory Baldwin

“When someone builds a home, they’re not just building it for themselves — that home’s going to be around for a 100 years.” –Eleanor Smith, Founder of Concrete Change

What can an individual do after breaking a leg if they live in a home with the bathroom on the second floor? They can seriously limit their fluid intake and only use the bathroom once or twice per day. What does an individual do if they break a hip? Every year, thousands of Americans face this same question. It is not enough for disability advocates to argue for Visitability on a state-by-state basis. Visitability must become a national priority. Too often individuals become prisoners in their homes because they can’t safely navigate the steps. Visitability could liberate millions of people living in isolation from their friends, neighbors, and communities.

What is Visitability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires access for people with disabilities for all new multi-family dwellings and a small percentage (5%) of single-family homes constructed using public funds. This law obviously does not address the vast majority of single-family housing in the United States. Visitability seeks to make new housing accessible by having it meet three basic conditions:

  1. hallways and doorways wide enough for safe navigation by wheelchairs
  2. one zero-step entrance with a wheelchair approachable route
  3. one wheelchair-accessible bathroom on the main floor.

Just making these three changes in the design of new homes is a cost-effective way for people to maintain their independence. Most people living with a disability will tell you that their biggest issue is living in a world that does not consciously accommodate their needs. A lack of easy access denies those who need it opportunities to interact, socialize, create, and enjoy friendships.

Current Options?

For people with disabilities and the elderly, options are available to help make a dwelling accessible, but these are costly and time-consuming. Constructing an accessibility ramp in Northwest Ohio can currently cost as much as $5,000 with the cost of labor and materials factored in. Installing a residential wheelchair lift onto a home can cost the homeowner between $3,400 and $6,500. If an individual lives in Northwest Ohio and can’t afford to construct a ramp, or install a lift, they may be waiting on a list for 18 months for a social service agency to meet their needs.

Entering a nursing home may be an option. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 16,100 nursing homes in America with 1.7 million beds and 86% occupancy. The number of current residents in 2004 was 1.5 million and the average stay was 835 days, a little over two years. If individuals are only staying in nursing homes for little more than 2.5 years, where are they going? For the most part, they are returning to homes that do not meet their needs. Individuals spend years residing in homes with dining rooms or living rooms converted to bedrooms, using portable commodes, and undergoing sponge baths. Is this how anyone wants to spend his or her life?

A Better Way

“It defies logic to build new homes that block people out when it’s so easy and cheap to build new homes that let people in.” — Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D. -IL)

Designing homes with open floor plans, U-shaped kitchens with maneuvering space for food preparation, bathrooms with reinforced walls that support the installation of grab bars can add value for everyone, not just the elderly and people with disabilities. In March 2009, Representative Jan Schakowsky re-introduced the Inclusive Home Design Act (HR 1408) to Congress. For new homes built with federal assistance, this bill supplements the existing 5% requirement of fully accessible units by mandating visitability in all of the other units. If this bill becomes law, it will make subtle, but substantial changes in how America constructs new homes.

Visitability is an important strategy for developing accessible housing. It can contribute to creating neighborhoods and communities that welcome everyone. There is a huge market of 78.2 million Baby Boomers who may soon need affordable and accessible homes.

Comments: http://blog.aipathome.com/should-visitability-be-a-federal-law/

AIP Tech Watch

. . . On the remote island of Bute in Western Scotland people with chronic diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are monitoring their conditions from the comfort of their own homes with a telecare device developed by Telehealth Solutions. Life is easier for both patients and doctors. Benefits were apparent soon after the easy to use devices by avoiding an unscheduled hospital admission.

. . . Predictions for long-term senior care: "We're starting to see some big, transformative thinking that involves a lot more community and family care. With this, we'll witness the emergence of the concept of the "virtual retirement home." By 2020, most seniors will live in their own homes, and their health conditions will be actively monitored by medical professionals through a network of intelligent bio-connectivity and other devices. We won't have a lot of senior citizen homes -- we'll have virtual seniors networks." - Michael Akerib, "Transformative Thinking" Club of Amsterdam

AIP Pro Tip: Think Tubular

Our AIP Professional's Tip for better aging in place is from Certified Aging in Place Specialist and Certified Green Professional, Ken Bryan, owner of KBC, Inc. Ken, says:

AIP Pro Tip from Ken Bryan owner of KBC, Inc.
Ken Bryan, Full Service Design/Build Remodeling Contractor.

"Many homes at night are difficult to navigate safely to locate light switches. Tube skylights located in the kitchen, bathrooms and hallways can add natural light to the area and sometimes eliminate the need for artificial lighting. Energy efficient tube lights works by capturing sunlight on the rooftop and then redirecting it down a reflective tube into your home. The tubing fits between rafters and installs easily with no structural modification. You have your choice of diffuser and type of lighting effect to match the decor of your your home."

Ken Bryan is owner of KBC, Inc. a well known Design/Build company serving the greater Cincinnati area in Ohio. Founded in 1987 the KBC team is comprised of skilled architects, carpenters and trade contractors. KBC, Inc. specializes in room additions, kitchen, bathroom, and basement remodeling, as well as composite decks, screened porches, commercial remodeling, universal design and handyman tasks.

Comments: http://blog.aipathome.com/for-energy-efficient-lighting-think-tubular/

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