Aging Well in the Gorge August 17th 2022

Besides inflation and gas prices, the next biggest concern for many Americans is the cost of housing - and that includes for us older adults.

Like myself, many older adults have been living in their house for decades; not interested in moving except that there is just too much space. And then there is the hassle of fixing problems that always seem to pop up.  What I use to repair myself, I now want to hire professional help which is worth it but can be expensive - let me restate that, is expensive! So there comes a time to move and cash out that equity you have earned in your house.

Many older adults across the country are considering just that but have found it difficult to find affordable housing, but also finding housing that is accessible so they can continue to live there no matter their physical condition.

Although we may hate to admit it, most of us will need some level of accessibility if even for a short period. Because my wife and I are trying to sell our house, we moved into the downstairs apartment. But more importantly, we moved because after her hip surgery she needed a place that didn’t require climbing ten steps to get to the front door.

As with our house, most houses and apartments in the United States are designed for young, able-bodied adults (who will eventually get old!) and don’t meet the needs of older residents or people with disabilities. In fact, in much of the nation, most housing was built more than a generation ago to generally serve a population of traditional households consisting of two parents and at least two children.

But times have changed which has led to a new architectural standard: Universal Design - also called barrier-free design. Universal Design seeks to create environments and products that offer safety and comfort for all people with no need for adaptation or functional changes and are largely invisible to the casual observer.

When applied to housing, examples of Universal Design are: no step entrance from the sidewalk, rear patio, and garage; lever handles instead of doorknobs; hallways and doorways that are 36 inches wide or more; avoiding changes in floor height; lowered switches and raised receptacles so that they can be reached from a seated position;  and in the bathroom a walk-in shower, a wall-hung sink, and a 60-inch clear floor space for turning a wheelchair. Even though it costs very little more to build using Universal Design standards, barely one percent of the nation’s housing supply contains any “Universal Design” elements.

It is clear there’s a need for more affordable housing for all. But often overlooked when building both private and public housing is that for many, housing that is accessible is also critically important for now and in the future.

 Brain Tease: Unscramble the letters to reveal a quote by W.C. Fields.

“fi uoy actn zdaelz etmh tiwh becinrllai lafbef ehtm iwht llub.”

The name of the fictional cartoon band that recorded the number one single “Sugar, Sugar” in 1969 was the Archies. I received correct answers from Jeannie Pesicka, Kim Birge, Margo Dameier, Donna Mollet, Keith Clymer, Jim Tindall, and Jayne Guidinger who may still have the record she got from the back of a cereal box and is this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

And I missed Sandy Haechrel who enjoyed seeing lightning bugs when vacationing recently in Minnesota; and Rose Schulz and Rebecca Abrams who remembered Jaws.

Red Foxx starred in this 1972-1977 television series as a 65-year-old widower and junk dealer living in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this television series? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with one of the thirty-two “party” albums he recorded.

Well, it has been another week wishing for more rain and less wind. Until we meet again, always question but don’t let it keep you from acting.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

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