Healthy, Safe, Accessible and Adaptable Homes

Healthy, Safe, Accessible and Adaptable Homes

The Real Estate section of The Washington Post featured an article that caught my eye and formed the basis of my post today. Builders imagine homes of the future — but some of their dreams are available today, by Michele Lerner, describes concepts that homebuilders are considering to make future homes healthier, safer, more accessible & adaptable, and more comfortable to live in & easier to run.

Ever thought about having a dedicated room with an operable opening on the top to accommodate drone deliveries? Or using a 3-D printer to supply hinges for your cabinets? Or imagined your home’s windows adjusting to light and seasons the way your photochromic glasses do: darkening slightly in the summer to reduce heat buildup and fading to black at night for privacy without shades? … Most of the trends expected to affect house designs address consumer’s concerns about healthier living, affordability and adaptability to future lifestyles.

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CBS picks 10 smart home products to help you age in place

Smart Home products that help you Age In Place

In this referenced article, CBS picks 10 smart home products to help you Age In Place. They represent the various types of product categories available, from voice activated home control to smart doorbells, thermostats, and medication reminders. They even include a smart refrigerator from Samsung that starts at about $3,500, but you can make your existing fridge smart for less than $40.

“Aging in place” is a hot topic these days — particularly among baby boomers who want to maintain their independence.

While flocking to smaller homes in warmer climates is still attractive for some seniors easing into their later years, more and more people are choosing to stay where they are. In fact, 85 percent of homeowners 55 and older aren’t planning to sell their homes in the next year, according to a 2017 survey from Realtor.com.

“Aging in place really is a concept based on where you’re living and your preference to staying, whatever you home of choice is,” said Laurie Orlov, tech industry veteran, eldercare advocate and founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch.

Not every home is set up to ease the transition into adults’ older years, when mobility can become a major issue. Declining hearing, sight and mental awareness can also affect how easy or safe it is to continue living independently in a person’s home of choice. But smart home technology brings a whole host of solutions to the table.

Scroll through the smart home products that CBS featured at https://www.cbsnews.com/media/10-smart-home-features-to-help-you-age-in-place/.

Blitab Braille Tablet for the Blind – Is it needed?

Blitab Braille TabletAs someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.

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Aging at Home: Common Problems-Solutions

Here at Modern Health Talk, you’ll find hundreds of solutions for safe & independent aging-in-place, including dozens of articles about the principles of Universal Design, and numerous photo examples on our Pinterest boards. But today’s guest post brings together many solutions in one article.

Aging at Home: Common Problems & Solutions

For wheelchair accessibility, this home had a ramp installed. It's a removable model, but more permanent designs are available.

By Jessica Hoefer (Here’s the original.)

The most common problems as you age in your home:

As we get older, many of our homes no longer work as well for us. But most of us want to remain in the homes we love.

Fortunately, there are many solutions, and there are trained experts in home modification all over the country. There are also new tools to address the specific issues of aging.

Home Advisor has joined with the National Aging in Place Council® to create this guide to making your home work for you. Here you will find: Read More …

Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. Read More …

A Bathroom Accessibility Remodel

My 3/23/11 article, You Can’t be too Careful, introduced steps I took getting ready for Grandma to move in. This article follows up with details about changes that were needed for bathroom accessiblity.  The objective of these two articles is to encourage you to prepare BEFORE there’s a need when it’s cheaper.

Remodeling a bathroom for a disabled grandmaDecisions

There are lots of choices to make when remodeling a home. We wanted to make things easier for Grandma but without degrading the value of the home, and hopefully increasing its value if possible.

Changing the master bath would not have fit in with our future plans, so we only considered the other two bathrooms. They were virtually mirrored twins, with standard tub, commode, counter and sink configurations. We weighed several options, including going with a special handicap shower set up, or using a general contractor and our own design ideas.

We chose a local contractor that specialized in baths and kitchens and went with a simplified plan that would make the bathroom accessible without making it permanently “handicapped.” For better or worse, we made the design decisions ourselves.

I hoped the remodel would be complete in a couple of weeks. Yeah, right! There was much more to remodeling than I considered.

Is the door to the bath wide enough? Is there room to make it wider?  How can we make the sink accessible for someone in a wheel chair? Do we want a handicap accessible shower floor, like the ones you see in some hotel rooms? How high should the toilet be? How much room does Grandma’s bathroom stuff take up? Can she access everything? Will she need to?

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Proposed Legislation to Make Homes Accessible

The City of Austin last year passed a law requiring all new homes be more visitable and accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Now U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky has introduced a bill that would do the same nationally, at least for homes built with federal dollars. Maybe someone will amend it to catch up with where Austin has been for nearly two years now. Let’s hope so.

Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act Will Make Homes Accessible

Wheelchair Lady doing LaundryBy Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 9th congressional district (original on Huffington Post)

9/28/2015 — Today, I introduced the Eleanor Smith Inclusive Home Design Act, which would require new homes built with federal dollars to meet accessibility standards — including a zero-step entrance, wheelchair accessible doorways and bathrooms, and climate controls that are at a height reachable from a wheelchair. Above, I announced the introduction of this legislation to advocates at a Rally with the National Council on Independent Living. They support the legislation. Read More …

A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers

Fulfilling the American Dream: A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers

Your future as a homeowner is knocking.

by Christin Camacho, PR & Content Manager, REDFIN, a next-gen real estate brokerage

Having a home to call one’s own is a giant milestone millions of Americans strive to achieve. Becoming a homeowner brings with it a sense of pride and accomplishment, but the process of becoming one can be intimidating. This is especially true for those with physical or emotional disabilities wishing to attain homeownership. Read More …

Designing Homes for Older Adults

The Accessible Home

 

Designing Homes for Older Adults

There’s a housing crisis looming for seniors. With baby boomers entering their retirement years at a rapid rate, most housing is not keeping up with their needs. Most older adults say they want to stay in their homes as they age, but most homes are not designed for older bodies that have a hard time with stairs, slippery shower surfaces or hard-to-turn door knobs. Read More …

Apple and The Future of Homebuilding

Apple announces HomeKit

Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Can Apple influence the future of homebuilding? 

I’ve long been critical of SmartHome marketing hype, and I’ve not been a fan of using speech commands to control home devices, but a Forbes article last week got me thinking and inspired today’s posting. (See Here’s How Apple’s Siri Will Control Your House Under HomeKit Program.)

Apple Understands Accessibility

Homebuilders can learn a lot from Apple when it comes to making homes more accessible and easier to live in. For the most part builders still focus too much on what potential buyers can see in the model home, such as marble entries, granite countertops, textured walls with rounded corners, and Moën faucets with lever handles. They don’t focus enough on foundations, insulation, infrastructure, and design elements for aging-in-place, although this is starting to change. Read More …

Home Safety Solutions for Independent Seniors

 

EDITOR: This  byline article from Medical Alert Advice is republished with permission
because an enterprising young girl brought it to our attention (story at end).

 

As a senior citizen, you have a variety of housing options available to meet your needs. Active and independent older adults sometimes choose to live in adult retirement communities that provide recreational and social activities, while seniors who might need some extra help at home may benefit from assisted living facilities. As your needs change, living arrangements that provide more assistance, such as an adult family home, residential health care facility, or nursing home, may also be available.

However, more adults are choosing to remain in their own homes or apartments for as long as possible. Seniors are becoming more independent and are living on their own longer than ever before. While this is great news, it is also important that seniors and their families ensure that their homes are safe. By following some simple tips, you can ensure that your home is safe and enjoy your independence for as long as possible. Read More …

Housing an Aging Population

U.S. Unprepared to Meet the Housing Needs
of Its Aging Population

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies & AARP Foundation Release New Report

Washington, D.C. & Cambridge, MA (9/2/2014) – America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group, concludes a new report released today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation. According to Housing America’s Older Adults—Meeting the Needs of An Aging Population, the number of adults in the U.S. aged 50 and over is expected to grow to 133 million by 2030, an increase of more than 70 percent since 2000 (see interactive map). But housing that is affordable, physically accessible, well-located, and coordinated with supports and services is in too short supply.

Aging Brings Risks

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Barbie’s Dream House for Aging in Place

Barbie as a senior

“The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it!” — Doris Day (image credit: Ya/sin’s photostream)

By Patrick Roden, RN, PhD (originally published in 2011)

A tweet from Kohler got me thinking: What do you think of Barbie’s new eco-friendly dream home from Mattel? We love the low-flow toilet!

Seems Barbie is trending green after years of Pink convertibles and end-less wardrobes; not exactly a sustainability lifestyle (making up for past sins?). The joint effort is a synergy of The AIA and Mattel, who have teamed up for the design competition in honor of “Architect Barbie,” the newest addition to the career-themed “I Can Be” series coming soon to a store near you. Read More …

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 More …

Austin Requires New Homes to be Accessible

Austin city council passes accessibility,
ramp ordinances for new homes

Wheelchair Lady doing Laundry
AUSTIN, TX (1/30/2014) — After two years of working on an ordinance amendment, the Austin City Council passed changes Thursday that will require all new homes be more accessible and visitable to people with mobility disabilities.

The idea to require changes to make housing more accessible first came up inside City Hall back in 1998. That’s when Austin adopted the changes for homes built with city funds. The intention was that it would lead to an across the board policy, but that never came to be.

City staff and council members have spent the last two years working with stakeholders to draft an ordinance amendment.

After much debate, and several postponements, the council passed the ordinance amendment 6-1 with Mayor Lee Leffingwell voting against the measure. Read More …

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multi-generation HomesMulti-generational 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 More …

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably.

Portrait of a beautiful senior woman smiling at home

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably
by Eliminating Safety Hazards at Home

Guest article by Anna Graves, a freelance writer
who lives on a farm in upstate New York.

Researchers from Colorado State University reported what most of us long suspected—the number one reason seniors fall in their home is tripping over something they didn’t see on the floor. The dangers don’t stop at the front door, either; uneven sidewalks, poor lighting and steep inclines present challenges for seniors. While you can’t remove every risk of a fall, you can explore your options to ensure your home (or the home of an elderly parent or friend) is safe.

First Things First

Every room in the home has potential dangers. Take a tour of the home with a friend or relative and look for hidden risks of a fall. Read More …

How Seniors Learn Technology

Photo of elderly couple proudly showing off their new iPadToday’s neck-snapping pace of innovation threatens to leave older members of society on the outside looking in through the twilight of their lives.
But what can we do?

That was the sentiment of Get old, tune out: Is technology leaving the elderly in the dust? I stumbled upon this article and had to comment, because I thought it missed an important point. The article was written from the perspective of a 30-year-old after assisting his 60-some-year-old father-in-law and gives you insight into how younger people view seniors.

“These older folks lack the base-line understanding that people of my age (early 30s) received,” he said, and he was right. But it has less to do with basic understanding and more to do with how older people learn and adopt technology. Product designers, especially young ones, need to understand this lesson.

My response

All product designers should see www.mhealthtalk.com/2011/09/webcam-101/. It’s a short video of a cute elderly couple trying to use their new PC and includes a link to a related article presenting the Apple iPad as a much simpler solution. Using any new technology can be daunting because of how seniors learn, and that contrasts with how young kids, or adults who grew up with tech, learn. Read More …

Jim’s Place, an Assistive Technology Lab at St. Ambrose

Photo shows a plaque on the side of Jims Place at St. Ambrose University honoring Jim O'RourkeSt. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa has a unique Assistive Technology Lab that’s doing some special things to help people with different disabilities. It’s part of a Masters in Occupational Therapy curriculum that teaches students how to improve lives, and I’m happy to feature the program in this article and its attached video.

Assistive technology is anything used to increase, maintain, or improve our functional capabilities, and we all use assistive technology in one form or another to improve our lives. Examples include eye glasses & contacts, hearing aids, remote controls, cordless phones, computers, bicycles, cars, etc. When these items, tools if you will, are designed for use by anyone regardless of age or ability, we use the term Universal Design, but some of the tools are designed for special needs, such as the wheelchair designed for someone who can’t walk, or the smartphone apps designed for people who are blind. Read More …

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.

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