"Unfortunately, the home environment is not well suited for many people to remain in as they age," said Olsen. "Safety problems abound, especially when it comes to exterior maintenance." However, Olsen and Hutchings believe that vigilant attention to detail and common sense can keep many a loved one in their familiar surroundings.
The pair is in the vanguard of a growing national movement to enable the aging population and individuals with disabilities to remain at home. The researchers recently co-authored A Home for Life, NJIT Press, 2005. The text is a soft cover, easy-to-read and follow, 78-page guide for creating, safe, comfortable homes. A grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service supported their work.
"Research shows that living at home for many people is better than being sent to an institution," said Olsen. Fifteen states, to date, have arrangements so that Medicare money can pay for daily visits from home health aides to people in their homes. Similar legislation is now pending in New Jersey as well as a pilot program for Ocean County.
"The thing to keep in mind when assessing a home is to remain flexible and honest when assessing the capabilities of the individual," said Olsen. "Not everything works for everyone. There is no silver bullet. What we suggest are some ideas to try that we have seen often work for some people."
"We also remind everyone to assess the situation every few months to insure that the living conditions remain viable," Hutchings added. "You will need to be doing different things at different stages of the person's life. But with a cert
Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology