Loeb-Aronin praised another collaborator, Sherri Snelling, California-based CEO and founder of the Caregiving Club, executive producer of the “Handle With Care” TV show and newsletter editor, for bringing in a caregiving component to the intergenerational program activities. Snelling’s website is at http://www.caregivingclub.com.
At the workshop, all professors and cognition, gerontology and geriatrics experts demonstrated how a variety of intergenerational activities around the country improved self-sufficiency, health care, mental and physical functioning and access to technology. The panelists shared “mind-building activities” and Internet-based content.
“[At] Pace and Case universities, [I and a team of instructors developed products to assist seniors with] loss of memory,” Loeb-Aronin said. “[The] computers and tablets [were used] with programs for recognition. [These programs] sensitized college instructors in [the] senior center [when they are working] with tablets [to address seniors with] memory disorders.”
“I [work on these projects with a team of] collaborators. [I get] advice and help from visitors and advisors [at my centers and universities]. Sometimes, there is an agency or group [that sponsors, leads or funds our work].”
Eckhouse said she started ElderSpace in July 2006 to assess the houses of seniors and enhance their living space at affordable rates to enable them to continue their lives at home and in their neighborhoods.
“[We encourage] planning, saving and aging in place,” she said. “[Most people don’t say] ‘I’m thinking of talking to [a] planner.’ Most people don’t want to plan. [They remain in] denial and worry. Don’t wait for a crisis [to occur to take action].”
Assessments focus on the mental and physical functions of a senior in his or her home, problem areas in his or her quality of life and health care and high-risk spots for injuries or falls in houses. Eckhouse said the assessments take into account whether there is sufficient lighting, safe and usable bathrooms, availability and use of house keys and accessibility of faucets and appliances in the kitchen as a whole.
She added that, after assessments, she offers modifications, adaptations, occupation therapy and products to the homes of her elderly customers using universal design and a specialized team of architects, engineers and construction workers.
“Home modification goals [are] safety, independence and functionality,” she said. “ElderSpace [provides] village members with communities and multi-generational housing. [We] retrofit space and create transportation and walking areas and visibility programs.”
She said ElderSpace helps Baby Boomers or seniors at different stages of rendering their homes more livable whether they are recovering from illness or accidents, coping with disability, remodeling or planning ahead for their houses and health care.
Aside assisting with planning changes to the house and staying at home, the company will also provide products, services and counseling on physical accommodations for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, accident and fall prevention, assistive technology and contractor referrals.
Changes can take the form, for example, of placing studs in walls for future grab bars, widening doors with offset hinges to avoid hands getting caught in door jambs, lowering the height of counters, cabinets, and toilets, providing solid office chairs, modifying lighting, adding lighting and ultra-sense faucets, placing walkers at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls and removing barriers.
“Escalators, stairs and even revolving doors [are] products,” Eckhouse said. “[When I went to visit] Lurie [Children’s hospital in downtown Chicago,] everything [went] up. [I saw a] two-story escalator.”
Eckhouse explained that many of her company’s ideas for in-home accommodations come from the structural features she finds missing as well as the ones present in many medical centers and senior long-term care facilities.