Lots of people are working all over the place at the Green House Homes at Woodland Park in Harrisonburg, Virginia. At Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community (VMRC) the staff is in training, the furniture is arranged, and everywhere people are making last-minute tweaks.
Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the kitchens?
One of the homes will be ready for residents in two weeks. VMRC is about to add a new community to its vibrant and caring culture. Grand opening ceremonies are January 5th and 6th at VMRC.
I will be blogging from the events on Saturday and Sunday.
It snowed last week in the Shenandoah Valley, and I took this picture of one of the new homes at Woodland Park.
BTW: These homes have mountain views!
Who knew that when we installed all sorts of grab bars and railings in our house — intended to help our elder parents — they would be useful to me years before retirement?
I am using these accommodations all the time just now because I have a cataract, and those relative small but important changes in our house are coming in handy.
My cataract is not caused by aging. In the spring of 2012, about seven months ago, a detached retina required immediate surgery. I wrote about my experiences to provide clear and objective reports about the process of retinal surgery and my recovery.
My surgeon performed a vitrectomy, successfully correcting the problem and maintaining my vision, but he warned me ahead of time that a side-effect of the surgery is the development of a cataract. I say side-effect rather than complication because almost everyone who gets this type of surgery develops a cataract. Sure enough, about three months after my surgery I began to develop one.
We’ve all had experiences trying to accomplish a task that is way too hard — and one reason it’s so difficult is because the environment is not designed to help a person function and work efficiently. Many of us have watched our aging parents grow frustrated, especially in medical settings, where equipment and furniture is overly complex and where even simple things, like light switches, sometimes look like they belong in the complex control panel of an airplane. And it’s not just elders, but patients in general. In the biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple Computer’s Steve Job, then seriously ill and hospitalized, noted that hospital equipment needed dramatic redesigning.
To learn more check out Empowering Patients Through Design, a short article at Wired Science reporting on a speech at the Wired Health Conference. The October 15, 2012 article describes Michael Graves’ presentation, explaining how he became a hospital patient and then discovered that he could no longer function efficiently — even in a rehabilitation setting. The medical rooms, equipment, and other materials were poorly designed for people with disabilities.
Graves, a renown architect, found a new calling, combining his professional knowledge with his experience as a patient and becoming a proponent of human centered design. This type of architecture aims to make health care environments, as well as other settings, more comfortable and user-friendly. “I decided that since I was a designer and architect and a patient, I have the credentials to do this,” Graves said at the conference.
In health care human centered design focuses on every part of the patient’s care experience from hospital and patient rooms to floors, light switches, and even signs. Graves and his group have designed hospital furniture that takes the specific needs of patients into consideration.
These tips for adult children and their families look like common sense suggestions. Often however, when family members seek an assisted living community for an elder parent, they need to make decisions quickly without much time to read all of the fine print and ask the less obvious questions. Sometimes time constraints can put common sense at the bottom of the list.
Check out item number eight in the Smart Money list, “We pay people to put you here.” A family needs to know a lot about the placement service itself before considering its recommendations for an assisted living community.
Our family was most fortunate to discover Chesterbrook Residences in Northern, Virginia, where my husband’s mother lived for nearly two years. Their policies were transparent and clear.
A while back I wrote a post about the Ford Motor Company’s plans to increase the font size on dashboards, starting with car models in 2012.
In A Stethoscope in the Steering Wheel, reporter Anne Tergesen describes some of the accommodations in the pipeline — changes that may be made in future models to assist aging drivers.
Here’s what stands out to me. The cars will look just like any other car — nothing will give away the fact that they will provide additional features for seniors when they drive.
“… old age is a place we have never been. We may see it up close as our parents age, but we will never know what it’s like until we’re there.”
The quote comes from a piece I just read, a post by Paul Staley at the KQED Perspectives site. Staley describes a conversation that he had with his father about dying (and living). Contemplating the end of life –mulling over the cycle of life — is one of the most interesting aspects of life as an adult child. The more I pitch in to assist my parents, the more I find myself considering the fragility of our lives, realizing that I am not really that much younger than my parents. I’ve never felt as close to the aging period of my life as I do right now, despite the fact that I have some distance to travel before I get there.
Somehow, as people get older, they learn to deal with it, and it will be interesting to observe myself as I learn to do just that, figuring out, I hope, how to live well.
Ford Motors, surely anticipating aging boomers and wanting to make Ford automobiles as attractive as possible to everyone, has decided to increase the font size on interior display screens. Read, the SmartMoney.com article, Ford to Boomers: Can You Read This Now? The article, by Catey Hill, points out that initially the company is changing font size in the Ford Edge and the Ford Explorer. I bet other Ford models can’t be far behind.
Read Small Changes Enough to Keep Aging Seniors in Home, an April 21, 2011 article in the Kansas City Star. Reporter Diane Stafford describes how small tweaks and novel ideas can help a seniors remain in a much-loved home. These adjustments range from grab bars and higher toilets in bathroom to throw rug removal in places that are highly traveled. The article also describes some of the services that are available to seniors now, as well as others that may soon be used in the future.
Some time ago a post in this blog, Making Our House Safer for Aging Parents and For Ourselves, described how my family made some basic changes to our house. At first we tweaked various spots in the house to accommodate our senior parents when they were visiting, but now we find we happily use them ourselves.
Home accommodation demonstration videos are available on YouTube. For instance, the Visiting Nurses Service of New York has posted a series of “How to Help” videos on its website and on a visiting nurses channel on YouTube.