Sally Smith: Welcome to Age to Age. I’m Sally
Smith. Let’s talk. Today, we have Paul Franklin with us. Paul is Chairman of Aging in Place, an
organization that helps people plan and work toward aging in the place they
want to age in, which is usually their home.
Paul, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you very much.
We’ve been talking about the five key components to aging in place, and
they are, according to your literature, healthy
living, livable homes, financial and legal, supportive relationships, and
transportation. Tell me what you
mean when you say, livable homes.
Well, we’re talking about, basically, having a home that matches your
circumstances. For example, what if you
had a visitor to your home that has a walker, or wheelchair, does your home
really accommodate that kind of visitor?
And, if something were to happen, say, for you or your spouse, how would
you get in and out of the home? In other
words, are there steps that you have to go up and down? Is there a way to accommodate a person to get
into your house and exit your home easily?
What about in the bathroom, in the shower, for
example, do you have a shower where there’s no curb; you can just roll right in
with a wheelchair, or a walker? These
are things that people don’t think about until they have to raise their legs,
or whatever, to get into a shower, or to try to get up from going to the
bathroom. So, grab bars are important in
the restroom and, certainly, in the shower area. And what about lighting? Many times people forget about being able to
see when they open that medicine cabinet, and you can’t see those labels on
those medication bottles. It’s very important
to be able to see things properly.
What about the aspect of just opening a door? You know, the old door knobs are not very
conducive for someone with arthritis. So
what we do, we try to look at a lever handle.
That’s much easier to grab. In
the kitchen area, for some reason people seem to think that you’ve got to stand
up to cook. What we need to do there is
make sure that we have work areas in the kitchen that, if you’re in a
wheelchair, or whatever, you can walk right up or just sit in a chair and do
I never thought of that.
The same is true with the washer and dryer. Who says you have to bend over to put things
in a washer or dryer? Why not elevate
them so that they’re at a level that you don’t have to bend your body, or hurt
your back, in order to do your wash? The
same with the dishwasher, you know, elevate the dishwasher so you can get to it
And what about a cabinet, let’s say that you want to
get a dish and it’s way up high on a shelf?
They’re actually shelves, now, that come down to your level, that you
can activate. So, there are all kinds of
things in the home that you need to do to be prepared for when circumstances
change. You can live very comfortably in
your own home with very little accommodations, in many cases.
Well, you know, I think part of that too, Paul, is thinking outside the
box, just as you’ve said, why cook standing up?
When you think about it, honestly, if I had a very low table, I could be
in a chair. And, thinking outside the
box in the configuration of your home, sometimes a dining room might need to be
converted to a bedroom, or something on a lower level. I’m sure that there are many creative ways
that people can help. I’m thinking, too,
what about with a low level of forgetfulness, are there certain things that
automatically turn off the oven, or timers that lock doors at a certain hour of
night, or turn things on, does that help someone stay in their home a little
Absolutely. There are a number of
things like that. There are motion
detectors, for example, to turn light switches, and different things, off and
on. And, actually, people don’t have to
figure all this out by themselves.
That’s the reason we recommend that people have an assessment of their
home done, to see how accessible it might be.
And there’s actually a specialization, a CAPs (Certified Aging- in-Place
Yes. And it’s a designation that
has been set up by the National Association of Home Builders, in Washington DC. So, people can actually take the course and
receive this designation. They’re
usually engineers or contractors, or architects that, basically, have gone
through this program. They go into a
home and help and do that sort of thing.
We have those people listed in our directory. One is Citadel Enterprises, in Mount Pleasant. Peter Lloyd, there, is a CAPs person. We also have one in North Charleston, Atlantic Builders, Tori
Martindale. So, these are resources that
people, again, can tap into without trying to, themselves, do all the research
that it would take to really make sure that you’re covering everything you can
think of to make your life easier.
Well, you know, it makes sense.
It also makes sense economically, financially, to build homes with a
little of this in mind, looking to the future.
I know, my daughter, who is young and able, with little children, in Atlanta, they built a
house, but they saved a stack closet so that, down the road, they can have an
elevator that goes down to where the car is parked, things like that which
aren’t needed at this point. The house
is equipped for what’s down the line.
The doors are all a little bit wider.
I mean, it’s just a smart way to make your house, actually, more
It is a smart decision and, actually, there’s a term for it. It’s called universal design. And one of
the leading places for this is North
Carolina State University. They have the Center for Universal Design
there, and that’s what they specialize in, so people can go there, and they
have different models, and so forth, and they teach classes on how to do this
for specialists in this area. But, it’s
all the things that you mentioned.
Building into a home the kinds of things that people don’t normally
think of, that will really come in handy when you get ready to sell a home
later. And I think it’s a wonderful
And it’s allowing that flexibility, and that future, which is just so
smart. I think it’s fascinating that
there’s a whole specialty in this field.
It’s really curious. As I saw, in
your literature, you have something like thirty-three pages of resources on
every facet on aging in place. And what
a world of information, how much entrepreneurship, really, this whole field has
fostered, and given birth to, because people really do need this. These things have not been thought of quite
that way, in an organized fashion, before.
It’s neat to think you can get a specialist to come to your house, who
knows what’s out there, knows all the options, and can walk through and say,
you know, in your case, these four things
would make all the difference.
That’s right. And, you know, we
also include in our livable residents category, assisted living facilities, quite
frankly, because, in some cases, you need that.
And they’ve done a lot of planning for you. Even in continuous care communities, people
that don’t want to go through all of the hassle, let’s say, of keeping up that
yard, and keeping up with their homes, can, certainly, tap into other options.
And that’s what’s so wonderful about America and the free enterprise
People have options. That’s
right, people have options.
I love it. I was hearing somebody
speaking, and I’ve forgotten who it was now, they were saying, you know, we
complain about this, that and the other but, actually, when you travel around,
and you look at how people live in the world, you come back to America and say,
this may not be perfect but let me tell you what, I love my freedom of
choice. I love my options.
Paul, thank you so much for sharing that about livable homes.
Thanks to all of our listeners too for joining us. We always welcome
your suggestions and comments. This is
Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying good-bye and wishing you courage and joy on
your journey. We are all connected.
If you enjoy
listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle. It’s the story of how she personally
responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with
a parent with dementia. Just click on
Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home
page. All profits support research at
the Center on Aging. Thanks.