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PHOTO/ River Bend Home

As individuals get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to use homes as they were once able to. Stairs, faucets, light switches, and knobs become difficult to maneuver. Often, the simple task of entering one’s home becomes strenuous.

Connie Neal, University of Missouri Extension Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, is presenting a program that addresses ways elderly people can create a home to suit their needs and “age in place.”

The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Elizabeth Orosco speak with Connie Neal. Details on the program, “Aging in Place” are listed at the bottom of the article.

Universal Design is an innovative form of problem solving used to make buildings easy to use for all populations. It allows homeowners to make changes to their home, creating a space that is flexible and adaptable with efficient space to accommodate certain requirements.

In the United States, the 2010 Census Bureau recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age 65 and older in all of decennial census history: 40.3 million, or 13% of the total population.

By 2050, people age 65 and older are expected to comprise 20% of the total U.S. population. The fastest growing segment of American’s population consists of those 85 and up.2 In 2010, there were 5.8 million people aged 85 or older. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 19 million people aged 85 or older.3

The concept of allowing individuals to remain in their homes as they age is an option that will appeal to a large portion of the population in the near future.

Neal states several practical, inexpensive things can be done to aid elderly people use items in their home that have become difficult to use.

“There are some inexpensive things you can do,” said Neal, “like putting lever handles on your faucets in case someone has an arthritic condition or something, you can put rocker panel switches on, and change out the flooring…”

Neal says this concept is feasible and affordable, and will ultimately help those who would prefer to remain in their homes as they get older.

Connie Neal has a Masters of Arts degree and is certified as a Healthy Home Specialist. She serves 19 counties, including Saline County, in the northwest region of the state. Her MU Extension office is in Maryville, Missouri.

Aging in Place Presentation:

Where: Marshall Public Libaray; 214 N Lafayette Ave, Marshall, MO 65340

When: Thursday, May 19th at 2:00

Fee: No fee; open to public

Contact: Marshall Public Library: 660-886-3391