Tag Archives: dignity

Your Home Accessibility as You Age

Long View: Making Your Home More Accessible

A beloved family member is aging rather rapidly, not that we’d mention it of course. He already has arthritis in both knees and his left hand. His vision is not as good as it used to be, and we notice his agility just isn’t there anymore.

The problem is that his home has incredibly steep stairs, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are on the second floor. The furnace is in the cellar, which is only accessible through heavy metal doors and down another steep flight of stairs. And of course, the front door has stairs, too. The bathroom needs a lot of work. There’s no shower, just a huge slippery clawfoot tub. Home modification would be great, but a hundred-year-old house will always have its challenges.

These days, some builders are making structures with Universal Design, which focuses on providing maximum accessibility, regardless of a person’s ability to maneuver. Wider doorways, flat thresholds, and grab bars are a few of the tools that can make a home or commercial building more convenient for all of us.

My friend Therese Cardosi is the executive director of the Options Center for Independent Living in Bourbonnais. The mission of these centers (there’s also a location in Watseka) is to provide services, support, and advocacy to enhance the rights and abilities of people with disabilities in order to help them more actively participate in their communities and live self-determined independent lives.

“We are all in the process of creating the future for ourselves and our children, “ Therese said. “We don’t know what that future will bring, but we can predict that many of us will eventually need accessible places to live. The statistical projections are staggering.”

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s mission is to “build the capacity of our members so they can help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.”

Sadly, their many services can’t make up for a home that doesn’t accommodate someone with limited mobility or sensory loss. For those of you who haven’t figured it out, I am the “beloved family member” mentioned at the beginning.

There seems to be some movement in the right direction, but will it be enough or fast enough to support the statistical crush of the Baby Boomers? Probably not, but at least some folks are starting the conversation, and I want to be a part of it.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Preparing for the End of LIfe

Vantage Point: Planning for Quality at End of Life: Education to Ensure Dignity

For Health Alliance Medicare, responsibility is not just paying health claims when our members visit the doctor, but more importantly, it’s stewardship—safeguarding and protecting by providing quality and education. Special people called star coordinators help do just that by developing and using Medicare quality and chronic care improvement programs.

On April 22 at 2 p.m., Health Alliance will partner with local experts Dr. Timiras, Dr. Weiss and Ginny Heinitz, RN, from Confluence Health as well as Bruce Buckles, executive director of Aging and Adult Care of Central Washington, to hold a Wenatchee educational event. What makes this opportunity unique is that it features an insurance company working in tandem with care providers and a community resource organization to help educate members on the daunting subjects of palliative care and advanced directives.

Not everyone knows palliative care is a team approach that not only improves the quality of life for patients facing problems associated with life-threatening illness but also serves as a support system to patients’ families. Through the prevention and relief of suffering by early identification, assessment and treatment of pain, palliative care addresses physical, psychosocial, and spiritual problems and affirms dying as a normal process of living.

In addition to palliative care, our expert panelist will provide valuable information on preparing advanced directives. People who work in the medical field often witness family and friends struggling alone to make decisions on behalf of their loved ones who did not document their wishes ahead of time.

Questions, such as who will make care decisions for you when you can’t, what kind of medical treatment do you want, how comfortable do you want to be, how do you want people to treat you, and what do you want your loved ones to know, can alleviate tremendous stress for the family in the event of a life-threatening illness.

Health Alliance hopes this educational opportunity will enhance quality of life and serve as a gesture of stewardship by teaching attendees how to ensure dignity and freedom of choice at the end of life. If interested in attending, please email Shannon Sims at shannon.sims@healthalliance.org or call 877-750-3350. Videos of the event will also be available here after the event.