Posts Tagged ‘remodeling’

The Future of Universal Design

Universal Design

This bathroom looks elegant but it also has all the elements for Aging in Place — a zero barrier shower threshold for walkers and wheelchairs, shower seat, hand-held shower, a foot bath with whirlpool jets and an attractive grab bar. (MTI Whirlpools)

By Guest Blogger Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDeA Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, State University of New York at Buffalo. The Future of Universal Design was originally written for Disability.gov, which is included in our list of government websites.

From Accessibility to Inclusion

Universal design (UD) is an idea that developed in the mid-1990s as advocates of making buildings and products accessible to people with disabilities realized that these features often had benefits for a broader population. Examples include curb ramps, automated doors, closed captioning in television sets and accessibility features for computer operating systems. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multigeneration HomesMultigenerational homes were common during the Great Depression but declined once people rebounded economically. Now, as John Graham, coauthor of Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living, observes, the recent recession has prompted a move back from valuing independence to interdependence.

Some 51 million Americans (16.7% of the population) live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent with at least one other generation, under one roof, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The Pew analysis also reported a 10.5% increase in multi-generation households from 2007 to 2009. Now builders are responding with homes designed specifically for multi-generation homes, or that can be modified to support that option later.

Could this trend be a utopia of built-in child care, elder care, three square meals, and shared costs? Could it avoid isolation in old age? Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Be a Victim: Protect Yourself From Home Invasion

Home SecurityBy Amanda Benjamin

The thought of being the victim of a home invasion is upsetting, to say the least. While a crook breaks into your home when it’s empty, a home invader enters when you’re still there. A home invasion is far more traumatic than a burglary, and it can happen to any home in any neighborhood whenever.

However, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from a home invasion, both before it happens and if you find yourself the victim of being one. Here are some of the ways you can personally protect yourself:

Financial Precautions

  • Avoid ostentatious displays of luxury possessions like expensive cars, electronics, furs, jewelry, art or designer clothing.
  • Keep any cash, gold, silver and expensive jewelry in a deposit box at a bank — or very well hidden, in the home.
  • Consider installing a floor safe somewhere in your home.  Read the rest of this entry »

Slip Proofing Your Home

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhymeBy Brian Schiller

Here are just a few of the statistics:

  • Each year in the United States, one of every three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Half of which are repeat fallers.
  • For people aged 65-84 years, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death; for those aged 85 years or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.
  • Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people over the age of 65 and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury.
  • Half of all elderly adults (over the age of 65) hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the fracture.

Elderly people face an increased risk of slips, trips and falls due to diminished mobility, strength and balance that comes naturally with old age.  The increased risk of falling is coupled with a higher likelihood of health complications related to the fall. An elderly person faces twice the chance of death due to falls than younger people according to the Centers for Disease Control. Read the rest of this entry »

Brianna’s Smart House

I just returned from CES 2013, the big consumer electronics show, where I learned about the latest in health & wellness technologies and home automation products that can serve seniors and the disabled and support aging in place, when I saw this story on KCBD News Channel 11. They’ve been following the story of Brianna Graves, an active little girl who was diagnosed at age 9 with Gorham’s Disease, also known as “Vanishing Bone Disease.” Instead of focusing on what Brianna cannot do anymore, this story looks at what she can do from now on.

It’s a heart warming story of how technology and universal design concepts can make life easier – in this case for a young girl with some severe physical limitations.

Brianna controls her environment by moving her lip, as a computer monitors the movement. But just imagine what she’ll soon be able to do with the brain sensing technologies that I saw at CES. I’m excited about the pace of tech innovation and the positive impact on medicine, health care, and wellness. And I’d like to hear your stories of how technology has helped you or a loved one.

Home Renovations that can Save the Estate

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhyme

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

By Wayne Caswell

Scenario ONE

Jack and Jill were in their late 60s and had been married for 37 years when Jack suffered a severe stroke and required care beyond the abilities of his partner. After leaving the hospital, he went into a nursing home, and the family home was sold to pay for his care, which was expensive and projected exceed $84,000 per year.

Jill couldn’t maintain the big house herself and couldn’t afford it either, so she moved into a small apartment alone, without her lifelong mate. Being separated affected the couple’s morale, but worse was that it affected their health and their finances. Without long-term-care insurance, their life savings were depleted quickly before Medicaid finally kicked in. And now the grown children had two places to visit to support their declining parents. It didn’t have to be that way.

Scenario TWO

Just as in the nursery rhyme, Jack goes home and recovers more quickly there – in familiar and loving surroundings where Jane hires professionals to help care for him. That decision lets the couple stay together, and the kids have just one place to visit.

Universal Design was not offered when they built their home, and even though renovating the home for wheelchair accessibility often costs as much as $50,000, they felt it was financially better than the alternative. The project was entirely funded with home equity, so they didn’t even have to touch their retirement money, or the kid’s future inheritance. You see, Jack and Jill are like most American seniors, 90% of whom would rather live at home as long as possible and are willing to seek help to do that.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Avoid Contractor Scams

If you or someone you know was effected by storm damage, please share this article. It offers advice for hiring a contractor that I submitted in August in response to an eLocal poll on this topic, and it’s based on my experience as communications director for a nonprofit homeowner advocacy organization that I co-founded. UPDATE: New advice links added (11/1/2012 )

Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk, wins eLocal's Most Articulate Award

Hurricane Sandy slammed into the northeast this week and did lots of damage to homes, so if you need repairs, this article is about how to avoid potential scams.

 Avoid “storm chasers,” those unscrupulous contractors that show up after disasters to prey on people in a hurry to fix their homes. You can recognize them by the magnet signs on their trucks and their temporary offices and phone numbers, and you may also notice yard signs popping up everywhere to promote their services.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Design Makes Home Accessible

Houzz Tour, by rom architecture studioThis Houzz home tour is about beautiful design that also addresses the mobility needs of all the family members — two of whom are wheelchair users. It offers more space for wheelchairs, easier access to appliances and a curbless shower that fits this Seattle family’s needs.

Karen Braitmayer and her husband needed more square footage and were resigned to building a second story before connecting with an architect who understood structural modifications and was able to provide more livability and accessibility in the same 1,830 sq.ft. footprint. The architect knew that “Adding a second story would have ruined the architectural character of the home and required multiple elevator trips a day.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Independent for Life

Book cover: Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America

order online at University of Texas Press

 

From INDEPENDENT FOR LIFE: HOMES AND NEIGHBORHOODS FOR AN AGING AMERICA
edited by Henry Cisneros, Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, and Jane Hickie, forward by John W. Rowe,
Copyright © 2012. Courtesy of the University of Texas Press.

 

Do you want to age independently in your own home and neighborhood? Staying home, aging in place, is most people’s preference, but most American housing and communities are not adapted to the needs of older people. And with the fastest population growth among people over 65, finding solutions for successful aging is important not only for individual families, but for our whole society. In Independent for Life, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and a team of experts on aging, architecture, construction, health, finance, and politics assess the current state of housing and present new possibilities that realistically address the interrelated issues of housing, communities, services, and financial concerns.

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s new in Smart Home technology?

Smart HouseBy Alex Lane (original article: What is a Smart Home? Samsung’s NaviBot S can clean the low places)

The original Smart Home device has to be the Teasmade, and the textbooks say that a smart home is one that uses home networking technology and your internet connection to automate and simplify everyday living.

It’s the use of networking and broadband connections that takes smart home technology beyond simple home automation, where each device usually stands alone, with its own control system.

Smart home tech is a fast-growing field, from cleaning your house to opening the curtains and switching on the lights. There’s also a growing field of utility and power management, for your gas, water and electricity [and for home health care]. Surrounding them all are unified networking and control systems that can control and monitor all of your devices, not just one for each.

Read the rest of this entry »

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