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How to Stay in the Place you Call Home.

 

Accessible Barrier Free Kitchen Counter

A global aging healthcare crisis is upon us.

Locally in the province of Ontario, 85% of people over the age of 65 want to continue living at home, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

How will society cope with rising long-term care demands? Not to mention costs that are spiralling out of control at a time when governments are unable to pay, due to growing budget deficits.

Thankfully, we can breathe a sigh of relief, as there are alternative solutions to this pending crisis.

Today, the most common approach for seniors to live out their golden years is referred to as “aging in place or home health care”.  This idea is simple, convenient and is often the preferred choice to live a satisfying and fulfilling life. The idea is built on a five part strategy known as A.G.I.N.G.  ‘in place’. It consists of proven key success factors for remaining at home instead of moving into a long-term care facility.

Access support. Family members, friends and community are essential

Guidance. People with experience can ease the burden of coping with change.

Independence. Begins at childhood and is devastating when lost.

Navigate.Resources are available when help is needed.

Garner safety. Ensure that the environment will not produce a fall or injury.

In modern society, most parents find it difficult to accept help from their adult children. Resistance is not about being a stubborn parent. It is a fact of built-in human neurology that “a parent is the care giver” and this does not change as we age. For children, the best way to assist a parent is to show them how their  decisions help you.  It is important to have an open honest conversation with your parent about how you both feel about nursing homes.

If visiting a parent in a nursing home upsets you or your children, consider offering to visit them more frequently in their own home. Remember, this is the place filled with lifelong memories.  Loneliness is one of the predominant reasons why many seniors choose to move into long-term care facilities. They may suffer from loss of friendships or the ability to get out and socialize. Family, friends and outside resources need to be available if loneliness or depression becomes prevalent.

There are many great resources available online to help guide families through their transition. If a parent is reluctant to accept your concerns and suggestions, do remember that they are still your parents. More often than not, children come to realize that the most effective way to assist a parent in making an important lifestyle decision is to bring in a third party expert. An expert can assist with deciding which options are most suitable for a parent based on their lifestyle and goals. The following educational resources will assist in making well-informed choices:www.eldercarecanada.cawww.ccac-ont.cawww.cilt.ca

All people want to be able to live a high quality of life independently aging at home, regardless of how old they are. When a person suddenly becomes disabled, the fear and loss of independence can be traumatic. At this stage, it is very important that the person received support and assistance in coping with this dramatic change in lifestyle. Most people living with a lifelong disability are often in a position to inspire and motivate others by sharing their story and experiences about how to achieve and live an independent lifestyle.

Government funding continues to shift and adapt to changing needs. While government is reducing support for care in hospitals and nursing homes, they are increasing funding that is directed at making homes accessible. This is occurring because it is essential. The following government resources for home modification are available to the public:www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca,  www.marchofdimes.ca,  www.ccac-ont.ca

Accessibility is a key requirement for safety. The more accessible the home environment is, the greater the possibility to remain at home for the long term. The responsibility of evaluating the home and its surroundings goes to the job of an Occupational Therapist who is qualified not only in assessing the individual’s functional capabilities, but also in making recommendations for adapting the environment to fit the needs of those residing in the home.

Occupational Therapy support and Home Modification specialists can be found at the website www.ccac-ont.ca.

Additional assistance may be needed to perform daily routines safely. The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is the governing organization individuals need to contact in order to access and benefit from the limited caregiver support, which is paid by the government. Support can also be accessed nationally through private organizations such as Bayshore Home Health. Additional information can be found at the website www.bayshore.ca

The bottom line for a rapidly aging population is about offering an alternative including barrier free accessible home environments that increase mobility and reduce the need for care. Accessibility offers tremendous opportunities for Independent Living by removing obstacles while performing everyday routine tasks that are essential for a rich and rewarding quality of life.

 

Ronny Wiskin, Founder

Reliable Living Centre. 416-502-9200

ronnywiskin@reliableliving.com

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Universal Design is for Everyone!

Home Elevators

Why is society being continuously exposed to advertisements and media campaigns directed at the challenges to which an aging population can relate? Frequent messages that are geared towards products and services that help make aging an enjoyable experience is happening in just about every major city and small town in our developing world, which is creating huge awareness about accessibility.

One in two people will be touched by a disability within their lifetime. Because of this statistic, exposure to advertisements such as buying a “walk in tub” or a “stair-lift” are becoming recognized as common home safety and accessibility solutions. Targeting this type of awareness to a growing aging population addresses the reality of improving our environment in order to age in place. Education about health, personal finances and care options will help us plan proactively for our futures. Proactive planning helps families overcome sudden events like an illness, while reducing slip and fall hazards to avoid further impairment. These common unforeseen tragedies can occur at any age and are manageable and often preventable. Choices made in a proactive manner can help achieve a healthier lifestyle and more comfortable home for people of all abilities to age in. By removing the risks, you can reduce the chances of having a long term disability related to falls.

There are simple ways of removing barriers that will not involve large scale renovations. The broadest concept of accessibility is having the ability to remain independent; this is achieved by removing barriers and preventing barriers in the future. Accessibility is commonly recognized as wheelchair ramps in front of homes, grab bars in bathing areas and buttons that swing doors open for wheel friendly access. Accessibility includes all those things and so much more. For those of us who have fragile bones and issues with balance, a cane or a walker makes it safer to maneuver through physical barriers. Flashing lights that indicate someone is at the front door or that the phone is ringing are examples of adapting our environment to overcome sensory barriers. Reducing clutter is another way to make life more manageable around the home. Perhaps just re-organizing household belongings and simple storage solutions are all that’s needed.

What happens if more elaborate changes are needed to make the home accessible? The first step in this process is to have a needs assessment done by an occupational therapist or other health care professional with experience in adaption to perform activities of daily living. The environmental barriers & physical needs should be analyzed and a report with recommendations be created. Designing the environment to meet all users’ needs is the next step prior to planning the renovation and this should be done by a qualified “universal design” or “barrier free design” specialist.

Before tackling any type of renovation, it’s important to fully understand the scope of work in relation to safety, independence and comfort. Suggestions can be simple ones such as installing grab bars in the washroom, elevating the toilet or converting to a hand held shower wand.  Or, the improvements can be more extensive when an opportunity to create a brand new bathroom, elevator or kitchen is advisable. However whether the modifications are large or small, they can truly end up making accessible living more enjoyable and have a large positive impact on those who choose to remain in their homes as they age.

Although our homes may be accessible, when we venture outside of them, there are a number of barriers that remain. While there have been successes in making public environments more accessible, there continues to be inconsistency – some environments are barrier-free, some partly accessible and some not accessible at all.  An example is the public transportation system. We still have to rely on a separate system within public transportation or hire private transportation services for those of us who can’t use the available routes to get to where we need to be.

We are beginning to implement new strategies to help sustain our future and prepare for our changing needs. While these messages may seem overwhelming at first, it does not mean that if we become “touched by disability” that we can no longer enjoy fulfilling lives.  Whether it’s an accident, injury or illness that changes the way we do things, it does not mean that we will lose the ability to have quality and enjoyment in our lives. Indeed, by making our environments accessible, we can continue to live with dignity and independence.

There is a growing awareness of the need for accessibility within the larger community to help make life more manageable for those of us living with disabilities.  For example, there are many more ramps, automatic doors, traffic lights that make sounds so that people with visual impairments can cross the streets with greater independence and safety.  Many movie theatres are more accessible and we can negotiate for accessible seating when we go to the concert hall, ballet or opera.

All of the ways in which barriers have been removed or are in the process of being removed in our public and private areas, makes our lives much more manageable and improves the quality of our lives today and into our futures as well. Making all environments accessible will certainly enhance and enrich the lives of the “one out of two of us who is affected by a disability”.