The Aging in America 2016 Conference was sponsored by American Society on Aging and supported by a wide array of foundations and corporations. Keynotes, general sessions and workshops were happening for four days in Washington DC.
The sheer quantity of information was staggering and I hope to share insights from the national and personal perspective.
In one session, Susan Hawfield, VP of Affiliate Services for Rebuilding Together, made several salient points that are poignant reminders of the importance of the work of Age Safe Advisors. The average expenditure by low income homeowners (and low income is higher than we want to believe) is $25 per month. That translates into 30 million homes in which there is at least one, unaddressed hazard.
Everything from weatherization to accessibility, there are important changes that we can make to reduce the risks of falls and improve quality of life.
The lifetime cost of a broken hip is $65,000. Our home safety assessments, so vital for all ages, but certainly for the 1 in 3 over the age of 65 who is likely to fall, are a critical component of the national conversation about aging in place. Another statistic is that only 20% of homeowners have done anything at all to prepare for longer life in their homes. Our assessments will empower individuals to take the steps, even one modification or new light at a time, to reduce the risk.
There was another interesting concept introduced to the audience by Kathleen Kirchner of Accessible Home Associates. She said that the concept of universal design was well-founded but we need to think in terms of individualized design.
We need to use the universal design principles but remember the wants, needs and preferences of our clients in developing the best solutions.
This is just the beginning, but gives us food for thought as home safety and fall prevention are leading the way to more comprehensive understanding of the breadth of issues.