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Enabling Home Environments: Strategies for Aging in Place


The first phase of our work obtained descriptive data about the extent and type of barriers to aging in place found in the homes of a sample of older people with disabilities. A barrier was defined as an environmental feature that reduced functional capacity or put a person at risk. We identified 4 categories of barriers: activities of daily living, safety, security and the structural deficiencies. Barriers were identified using a self report method administered as part of a comprehensive Consumer Survey conducted by the RERC on Aging (Mann et al.,1994) and a free home assessment service completed in homes occupied by people selected from the Consumer Survey sample. Recommendations for interventions through home modifications and other related services were prepared and discussed with each individual in order to identify priorities. The participants were alternately assigned to one of two groups as they were recruited. Group One received only the free home assessment and Group Two received additional technical assistance and referral services to help implement any of the recommended interventions. In the second phase, a follow up interview was conducted by telephone approximately 18 months later to identify which additional recommendations had been implemented. For each recommendation that was not implemented, the individuals were read a list of possible reasons and asked to tell us which statement most closely matched their own reason for not carrying out the recommendation. The reasons were based on the decision-making models described above but worded in everyday language. Open-ended responses were also solicited if the respondent felt our choices did not apply. Most of the open-ended responses fit easily into one of the existing categories. All the participants in the study were over 62, had a disability and lived in non-institutional community housing in the Buffalo metropolitan area. A wide range of disabilities was represented.

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New York-Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell