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Remodeling Strategies for Aging Homeowners

September 25th, 2017

Remodeling Strategies for Aging Homeowners

 

By Paul Kocharhook, CAPS professional and president of Pathway Design & Construction

There’s no place like home. This is especially true for people who have spent many years in one house – raising families and creating a rich history of memories within its walls and with the surrounding neighborhood. As we age, however, we often face mobility and health issues.  What was once a comfortable and safe haven becomes a place of hazards, barriers, and challenges.  But moving out of your home into an unfamiliar place to solve the problem doesn’t have to be the answer. The great news is, there are a lot of smart options for remodeling your existing home that can allow you or your loved ones to stay in the same place for years to come.

The concept I’m going to talk about is called Aging in Place (AIP). It means, simply, the ability to live in your own home safely, independently, and comfortably as you age. As a home remodeler, I have helped many clients incorporate the right modifications into their homes to age in place. It is always exciting to see the difference it makes in their lives, allowing them to age gracefully and comfortably in a place they know and love.

The Occupational Therapist (OT)

At my remodeling company, Pathway, when we work with clients who would like to explore Aging in Place options, we start by enlisting the services of an Occupational Therapist or OT.   OTs are licensed health professionals who understand the health and disability issues people face over a lifetime and how to match the abilities of an individual with needed supports. According to the AARP website, an OT may do the following:

  • Assess an individual’s abilities, challenges and needs (this is often done by asking questions, such as: Do you have medical conditions that impact your daily life? What activities are painful or difficult for you to do?).
  • Perform a home evaluation and recommend changes to increase safety and ease of use.
  • Identify furnishings, equipment, and techniques that can help with regular or needed activities.
  • Suggest and demonstrate techniques that can make essential activities possible and easier.

 

The Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)

Developed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), along with the AARP and others, the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) training program certifies building industry professionals to apply Aging in Place modifications to home building and remodeling designs.

 

At Pathway, I am the CAPS professional. In other situations, the remodeler may bring in a CAPS professional from the outside as well as an OT. After the OT does their work, the CAPS applies the information supplied by the OT to propose potential modifications to the home’s layout, features, and fixtures to enhance function and safety. Because budget is also often an issue, the CAPS can recommend a range of options from most to least critical.

 

Safety is the primary driver behind added AIP modifications.  Since more than one-third of all injuries to older adults occur in the bathroom, a lot of attention is paid to modifications to that room. Accessibility is also an important aspect of AIP design. This may involve making room for wheelchairs or walkers, removing barriers to mobility, or making things easier to operate or reach. Modifications can include:

  • Increased lighting
  • Accessible light switches at both ends of stairs or hallways
  • Lever-style door handles that are easy to reach and operate
  • Additional railings and grab bars
  • Handheld flexible showerheads
  • Non-slip/skid flooring for both traction and cushion
  • Slip-resistant shower and tubs
  • Curbless (walk-in) showers for easy access
  • Wider doorways to allow for wheelchairs
  • Step-free entrance and/or wheelchair ramps

 

How to Get Started

The first step is getting the OT assessment. To learn more about OTs, visit aota.org.  To find an OT in your area, check with your physician, health insurance provider or local hospital. OTs are generally paid a flat fee per visit and their services may be covered by health insurance.

The second step is to find a CAPS professional that can work with a remodeler to land on the modifications that are right for you and your home. To find a CAPS professional in your area, visit the NAHB CAPS directory.

Applying aging in place concepts to a family home is a wonderful idea that can bring great peace of mind. With thoughtful modifications that increase safety, accessibility, and functionality you or your loved ones can enjoy the gift of aging gracefully and comfortably for years to come.

 

 

 

Pathway is a full‑service remodeling company focused on the creation of highly livable and functional spaces through smart design and eco‑friendly, healthy, and energy efficient products and practices. A Pathway remodel is also built to last. Through thoughtful building practices and the use of highly durable products, we help ensure our clients enjoy their remodel for years to come. We specialize in flexible design approaches, such as Better Living Design and Aging in Place that focus on solutions that accommodate a homeowner’s changing needs through all stages of their lives.

Seasons of Hope 2017 November Luncheon

September 14th, 2017

An annual event benefitting EvergreenHealth’s
Hospice and Palliative Care Programs

November 9, 2017 | Noon – 1:30pm
Lynnwood Convention Center

Palliative Care: EvergreenHealth’s Palliative Care consultations are available to all eligible patients, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay. Palliative care is multidisciplinary, and even the broadest insurance coverage rarely includes all of its components.

Hospice Center: EvergreenHealth’s Gene & Irene Wockner Hospice Center is available to those in need of inpatient hospice services. It is the only freestanding hospice center in King and Snohomish counties.

For more information or to register, visit the EvergreenHealth Foundation or contact Meg at mepowers@nullevergreenhealth.com

Elder Abuse Awareness – What is Elder Abuse?

June 26th, 2017

It’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month – What is Elder Abuse?

June is Elder Abuse Awareness MonthWith a Little Help will post a series of articles written by (or with a lot of help from) our friend and colleague, geriatric health specialist  Karin Taifour, MA, LMHC, GMHS.

Elder Abuse – A definition and why it is under-reported

The U.S. Department of Justice defines elder abuse as including “physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation of an older person by another person or entity, that occurs in any setting (e.g., home, community, or facility), either in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and/or when an older person is targeted based on age or disability.” (See The Elder Justice Roadmap, source of most of these statistics.)

CaptureAny older (or disabled/vulnerable) adult, in any family, may experience elder abuse. Sometimes individuals bear responsibility for the abuse. Sometimes broken or ineffective systems and entities bear responsibility. Even very limited research indicates that:

• One out of every ten people ages 60 and older who live at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Dementia puts elders at high risk: nearly 50% experience some kind of abuse, and 47% experience mistreatment by caregivers.

• Mental illnesses and/or substance disorders often affect perpetrators and/or victims.

• Cognitive impairment reduces capacity, increasing risk of financial exploitation.

• High rates of neglect, poor care or preventable adverse events in nursing homes and other long-term care settings affect more than two million people (most are elderly).

• About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women.

• Disproportionate victimization of African American, Latino, poor, or isolated elders.

What exactly *is* elder abuse?

Legislatures in all 50 states have passed some form of elder abuse prevention laws.  Laws and definitions vary considerably from one state to another, but in general:
Physical Abuse — inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
Sexual Abuse — non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
Emotional Abuse — inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
Abandonment — desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
Neglect — the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
Self-neglect — characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.
Exploitation — the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.

But unfortunately, the vast majority of cases go unreported.
For every 1 case of elder abuse that comes to light, another 24 remain hidden.

Why don’t victims report it?
• Dependence: reliance on the abuser/exploiter, that they may be abandoned
• Fear of retaliation: it will get worse if they say anything
• Lack of knowledge: what is abuse, what help there might be, where/how to get help

Why don’t others report it?
• Families – family conflict, dysfunctional factors, fear of getting in trouble themselves, thinking it might make things worse, don’t know who to call.
• Friends/neighbors – don’t know who to call, reluctance to get involved, fear of retaliation, “not my business” etc.
• Professionals – uneducated around signs, lack of knowledge about the requirement to report even suspected issues.

Cultural factors in abuse reporting
• A person’s culture of origin influences their family dynamics and what is acceptable behavior and treatment of others.
• Culture can also impact whether a person feels able to ask for help outside the family or community.
• Cultural factors and prior experience can also affect how the person trusts or feels comfortable with health care providers or other professionals

Did you know that Washington Long-Term Services and Supports has been Rated Top by AARP?

To report to DSHS / APS, call 1-866-END-HARM, or 1-866-363-4276.

Any criminal activity or assault must be reported to law enforcement:

* Call 911 if emergency situation, or

* Call local police agency’s non-emergency line or local precinct to make a police report (where the crime occurred).

SeattlePoliceNonEmergencyNumbers


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If you are unsure…

If you are unsure who to call or how to report, call the DSHS Hotline at 800-562-6078
If you are unsure whether you need to report, CALL!

* You will never be held liable for making a report you didn’t need to make — but you run the risk of a misdemeanor charge and losing your professional license if you don’t report information that you should!

* For more information online, see https://www.dshs.wa.gov/report-abuse-and-neglect

Article researched by Aging Care Consultation Services  – Karin Taifour, MA LMHC GMHS

Karin Taifour is a licensed mental health counselor and geriatric mental health specialist, and has worked in mental health with older adults for over 12 years.  You can contact Karin at:  206-999-5934, and by email at karin@nullagingcareconsult.com.  See her website here: Aging Care Consultation.

Coming Soon – A Chart of Elder Abuse and What Constitutes Financial Exploitation

 

 

Elder Abuse Awareness – Who is a Mandated Reporter?

June 7th, 2017

It’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month – Who is a Mandated Reporter?

June is Elder Abuse Awareness MonthWith a Little Help will post a series of articles written by (or with a lot of help from) our friend and colleague, geriatric health specialist Karin Taifour, MA, LMHC, GMHS.

VulnerableAdultTwo

WHO IS A MANDATED REPORTER for ELDER ABUSE?

(Who is required to report elder abuse?)

Caregivers, social workers, and anyone working with the elderly population (see complete list below) . . . did you know by law you are defined as a Mandated Reporter?  This means that if you even suspect abuse of a “vulnerable adult” (defined below), that you are required by law to report the crime to either DSHS or law enforcement.  

While we may not be able to stop elder abuse from occurring, the law dictates that we are responsible for protecting our elder population from further harm if we are a witness to it, or are aware of it, or if we even suspect it might be happening.  We do not have to have evidence or definitive proof of any wrongdoing – but if there are any concerns, we have to report it.

Who is a mandated reporter?

  • An employee of DSHS;
  • Law enforcement officer;
  • Social worker;
  • Professional school personnel;
  • Individual care provider;
  • An employee or operator of an adult living facility;
  • An employee of social service, welfare, mental health, adult day health, adult day care, home health, home care, or hospice agency;
  • County coroner or medical examiner;
  • Christian Science practitioner;
  • Any licensed health care provider;
  • Anyone engaged in a professional capacity during the regular course of employment in encouraging or promoting the health, welfare, support, or education of vulnerable adults, or providing social services to vulnerable adults, whether in an individual capacity or as an employee or agent of any public or private organization or institution.

VulnerableAdult
Who is a vulnerable adult?

  • 60 years of age or older who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself;
  • Found incapacitated by a court or has a guardian;
  • Has a developmental disability;
  • Admitted to any care facility (adult family home, skilled nursing, assisted living, dementia care, residential care/treatment);
  • Receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies;
  • Receiving services from an individual provider or personal aide

To report to DSHS / APS, call 1-866-END-HARM, or 1-866-363-4276.

Any criminal activity or assault must be reported to law enforcement:

* Call 911 if emergency situation, or

* Call local police agency’s non-emergency line or local precinct to make a police report (where the crime occurred).

SeattlePoliceNonEmergencyNumbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are unsure…PoliceWithVulnerableAdult

If you are unsure who to call or how to report, call the DSHS Hotline at 800-562-6078
If you are unsure whether you need to report, CALL!

* You will never be held liable for making a report you didn’t need to make — but you run the risk of a misdemeanor charge and losing your professional license if you don’t report information that you should!

* For more information online, see https://www.dshs.wa.gov/report-abuse-and-neglect

Article researched by Aging Care Consultation Services  – Karin Taifour, MA LMHC GMHS

Karin Taifour is a licensed mental health counselor and geriatric mental health specialist, and has worked in mental health with older adults for over 12 years.  You can contact Karin at:  206-999-5934, and by email at karin@nullagingcareconsult.com.  See her website here: Aging Care Consultation.

Next week – What exactly *is* elder abuse?

 

 

Celebrating Life at the Time of Death

May 24th, 2017

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Recently a dear friend lost his wife to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Surviving are her husband (my friend), a sister, three adult children each with a spouse, and seven grandchildren. My friend shared with his neighbors and friends that, in accordance with his wife’s wishes, the family would not be having a funeral service.   The reactions in his small town on the western slope of Colorado, varied:  understanding; curious and questioning; surprised; disappointed; appalled.

For many Judeo-Christians in our culture, having a funeral is a no-brainer. A mass or service, during which we honor and say goodbye to the loved one seems essential to closing the chapter of a life.  In that way of thinking, funerals, like weddings or baptisms, are a critical, ceremonial, communal time that helps family and friends move on to the next stage of life. The heart-breaking song and Vevo video “Just a Dream” by Carrie Underwood demonstrates beautifully the way the same ritual service is performed for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. This ritual can provide comfort and grounding at a very difficult time.
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But Washington ranks among the list of the least-churched states. Many in the Seattle area not only do not feel the need for a traditional funeral, especially a church-based funeral, they feel the need *not* to have one.  Some may never have attended church at all. Some might be estranged from the church. Some may be agnostic or atheist. As we observe this shift away from traditional funerals, we note that some of these people would still like some way of providing closure and an opportunity to celebrate a life.

There are several ways that we can acknowledge the passing of a life, beyond a traditional funeral.  Here are some options.

Celebration of Life (Party)

At least two area funeral service providers are placing more emphasis on Celebrations of Life. With a different focus than a traditional church-based funeral, a Celebration of Life can be just as it sounds – a joyous celebration where family and friends remember and honor the deceased in a party-like atmosphere.

At Cascade Memorial, the emphasis is on high quality and customer service, balanced with simplicity.   Sarah Geiger, Managing Director at Cascade Memorial Director says “the adult children and spouses follow [their loved ones] instructions, but after all, there is a life lived, and we encourage people to celebrate that life in some way.”  Cascade Memorial offers their fairly-priced celebration suite and simple catering, or the family may provide the food. “It can be very simple, have [your mom’s] favorite dessert.  You don’t have to have prayers, you don’t have to have blessings. Our culture relates funerals to church but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Sarah says they have had to change our language, from “Funeral Director” to “Arrangement Director”, because people don’t want to have funerals.  She says those who use her cremation or burial services are almost always having a Celebration of Life party on their own. “Auntie rents the club, someone is going to Costco and the other to Fred Meyer and Sam’s Club.”  This does make the celebration more meaningful but is a lot more work.  Cascade Memorial has fairly-priced suites and catering available to offer families who want a celebration but not necessarily a traditional funeral.

Pete Cameron at Purdy and Walters Floral Hills in Lynnwood (a Dignity Memorial property) tells us about examples of Celebrations of Life celebrated at Dignity Memorial, which has approximately 20 funeral homes and cemeteries in the greater Seattle area. Here is what Pete says:  “Many of our families don’t want a church service, yet they don’t know what to do instead, so we provide some support in that area. Life Celebrants are trained by SCI, and that is all they do, they go to our different funeral homes and help the families plan the services.”  Currently David Bailey is the Celebrant in the Seattle SCI market. David meets with families once or twice, sometimes even three or four times, getting to know the deceased person and the family.  Pete says it is difficult to assess the cost of a Celebration of Life planned by one of their Celebrants because there is so much variance, but the fee for the celebrant’s services is around $400.

Pete described a Celebration of Life they recently hosted at Floral Hills.   “The deceased was a long time hunter.  His son wanted to bring in all of his dad’s hunting and fishing gear, a deer head, and a lot more. We did a huge panorama and the family just loved it.”
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Video of Life

Another option that is increasingly popular is a life video honoring a person’s life.  Here’s an idea . . . create a video of someone’s life, then gather people together for “dinner and a movie”.  Hollywood Forever (where, coincidentally, Chris Covert will be buried) helps families to create a video story of their loved one.

LifeStories

“At Hollywood Forever, we believe it’s time cemeteries offered more than a name and date etched in stone. That is why we have produced thousands of LifeStories™, made from video and film clips, photos, written and spoken words. Our LifeStories™ specialists work with each family to gather their most cherished memories and assemble a LifeStories™ that captures the essence of a personality and the story of ones life.”

At Hollywood Forever, these LifeStories are available at kiosks and in the LifeStory theater at Hollywood Forever and through their website.

Scattering Of Ashes Ritual

Scattering of ashes can be comforting for some. Scattering of ashes allows families a final period at the end of the sentence without the trappings of a religious service.
Did you know you can scatter the ashes on a regular ferry run? Pre-arranged with the WSDOT, the ferry will stop part way into their crossing. It will be announced to the passengers that a scattering is occurring. A short wait is allowed while the family and friends of the deceased say their final goodbyes. What WA state resident hasn’t been on a number of ferry rides. This may feel more comfortable to them. More familiar.

Home Vigil

What about having a “home vigil”? This can be a wonderful option for especially people who have had their loved ones home for weeks or months while they are on Hospice. It offers so many things that are missing when we don’t have a funeral at all. Family and friends can stop by over the course of a weekend. Sometimes these families will create a simple wooden box and then decorate it during the vigil. A table with candles and art supplies provides people with an opportunity to. It is perfectly safe and sanitary to have a person’s body remain in the home (or other place of death), using dry ice underneath the placement and other methods.

A Sacred Moment funeral home in south Everett specializes in home vigils.   Owner and Funeral Director Char Barrett says it’s a small but growing percentage of their business.

Planning Ahead

When you are afforded the luxury of pre-planning for time-of-death arrangements, consider that the purpose of the funeral, Celebration of Life, scattering of ashes, or Home Vigil is not only to honor the deceased person, but also to aid and support the living with the grief and mourning process.   Pete Cameron says “the key is to have it be meaningful for you.”   We hope our article will provide some food for thought.

Share Your Ideas

We’d love to hear your ideas and stories.   Share with us via a email to info@nullwithalittlehelp.com, your stories of positive and unusual ways to celebrate a loved one’s life.

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