Housing needs change as people age
Look around your house. Is there a step at the front door? Are the hallways wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? How about the doorknobs: Do you have to twist them, or can you simply push down on them to open the door? Maybe those home features don’t matter now at this point in life. But what might you need 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now to get around your house? Your housing needs will change as you age.
The Clark County Commission on Aging aims to get people thinking about these forward-looking questions. Aging in place, and other issues related to housing and getting older, will be discussed at monthly talks held by the commission through the end of this year. To start, Alan DeLaTorre, a Portland State University research associate, will talk Tuesday about what housing options are needed for the increasing number of older people.
A lot of the new developments Ritchie sees popping up are stacked homes on smaller lots. A multi-story house could work for somebody for a while, but down the road maybe they develop a knee problem, or perhaps they have to use a walker, and the home needs to be retrofitted.
“How do you make those modifications and how do you do it economically?” Ritchie said. Chuck Frayer, a 65-year-old retired accessibility specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, chairs the Commission on Aging’s housing committee. The group has looked into building codes, universal design and what’s being done around the country for those who are trying to age in place.
The Little Details
When Ivan Olin’s pastor at Crossroads Community Church, Ritchie, said he should look into building accessible homes, he listened. Olin Homes has refined its design and has two ADA-compliant homes in its Battle Ground subdivision, Parkview Trails, with two more under construction.
Olin consulted with the Commission on Aging to figure out what basics should be in a home and what could easily be added as people move through different life stages. There aren’t grab bars in the bathroom, but extra backing in the walls means they could be installed later. After all, young families may not like the idea or look of grab bars when shopping for a new home. People can recoil at the idea of buying an accessible home, which comes with the stigma that it’s an “old-person home.”
“People don’t like to talk about it,” Olin said. “That makes it tricky as a builder to do advertising.”
To read the full article, follow this link: https://www.columbian.com/news/2016/feb/15/clark-county-series-talks-offers-tips-aging-in-place/?om_rid=AAB4gB&om_mid=_BWw3-FB9K08jd$&om_ntype=SRESMonthly