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Aging in place

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
Attendees listen during the aging in place lecture in Norman.
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NORMAN, Okla. – A large audience listened to the public lecture on “Aging in Place” organized by the League of Women Voters of Norman.

The two speakers specialized in the matter were David Boeck, a professor of architecture at the University of Oklahoma and owner of DLB Architects PC, and Kendra Orcutt, an occupational therapist and co-owner of Home Mods by Therapists.


David Boeck (left) and Kendra Orcutt (right) were the keynote speakers. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report) 

According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)’s study, 90 percent of the senior wish to live at home, even if only four percent wants to move with a relative. At the opposite only nine percent like to move to a facility. Boeck added statistic still show the same result as during the 60s.

“There is nothing more depressing than a nursing home,” Boeck said.

These choices are confirmed by another study that shows aging in place is today the most effective way (up to $25,000 a year) to do in comparison to a private facility, which can be two to four times more expensive.

In addition, Boeck said most of the health care housings in Norman are situated far from the nerve centers of the city.

“Aging at home is the best way to age physically, spiritually, emotionally and economically,” Boeck said.

However, even if a large majority of people wish to age at home only one percent of existing homes are adapted for that purpose. The AARP noted five necessary features to have in the home: extra-wide hallways and doors, lever-style handles on doors and faucets, no-step entry into the home, accessible electrical controls, and single-floor living.

Boeck added larger windows to increase natural light coming into the house is also a plus as senior need more luminosity to see.

Boeck showed among others changes he made on his own home to make more aging friendly by improving entry accessibility and remodeling the inside of the house to make more spacious for a better mobility.

“I look at place holistically, my house, I wanted to be sustainable, accessible and enjoyable,” Boeck said, noting the improvement of the accessibility in the house can also benefit for the young child.

Security is also important, by putting among other viewer panels on the door helping to see who he is out without opening the door.

But all these implementations can be expensive, for example, Boeck said an accessible microwave can easily cost $800, far more than a standard one.

Orcutt, who specializes in bathroom accessibility and use for seniors said one of the easiest and most important changes in the bathroom is adding a bidet to the toilet, which cost less than $100.

“It makes it easier for an older person to sit down on it,” Orcutt said.

Orcutt added the orientation of the toilet face to an open shower (no step, no door) greatly improve the space available and accessibility.

“This is my favorite solution,” Orcutt said.

Orcutt and Boeck said to the Red Dirt Report that new technologies can play an important role in facilitating the life of the senior if it doesn’t change their routine and understand how to use it.

“Sometimes using new devices can be a challenge for elderly,” Orcutt said.

Link to the AARP’s “Home Fit Guide”.

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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