THE TAKE AWAY: Leaking faucets, toilets, windows, moldy decks, stairs – it all sounds so banal but Rebuilding Together, a nationwide organization that helps low income homeowners and especially seniors with home repair and maintenance knows that these seemingly banal problems can often destroy the only major asset people have or cause accidents that push somebody out of their long term home and neighborhood.
AAA has recognized that deferred maintenance and repair is a broader issue and recently started ‘House Manager’, a membership service that offers an annual home assessment and connects you with home repair services.
The Aging 360 Tool Box that At Home With Growing Older has been building is filling the gap of the healthy home that adapts to your needs. It starts with the awareness that one’s environment can adapt to one’s habits and needs instead of us trying to make do with standard set ups and designs. The hardware store is a treasure drove for such little DIY adaptations as are Outdoor Equipment stores.
From Sugru the kneadable colorful material that can be molded and attached to different materials so that for example a grip of a knife you use every day fits better into your hand to a simple plastic hook, called Command Utility Hook that can be attached to most surfaces by peeling off a strip in the back. At the Outdoor Stores, headlamps are a great item for bed time reading or the night time walk to the bathroom.
Participants and presenters shared stories that revolved a lot about the challenges of the bathroom – such as molded shower seats that instead of providing safety became slides. Some suggestions for convenience, comfort and safety were revolving and movable shower seats, motion activated, battery powered LED lights at the perimeter of the bed, sensory markers like a lavender plant at the bottom of the staircase and of course hooks, hooks and hooks – which can also be used as pulls when turned upside down.
In general the sense was that as long as we think about aging mainly as disease and as long as solutions are designed without imagination and without really understanding the varied needs – from safety to delight, people need to take matters into their own hands, from home maintenance with the perspective of making one’s home an ally to DIY solutions that make everyday life more convenient, safe and therefore pleasurable.