Newsletter – July 2010 (page 8)

Newsletter – July 2010 (page 8)


Universal Design (UD) is an issue increasingly in the news as the baby-boom generation begins retiring.  Access Now, Inc.® presents the following article by author Tom Kelly as part of our ongoing discussion of this topic.

Universal design hitting home

Rising long-term care costs fuel demand for aging-in-place modifications

By Tom Kelly     ○     Inman News

Builders are doing an admirable job of incorporating universal design features in new homes, but baby boomers continue to be slow in accepting the need for them.  Perhaps you know the type . . . people who do not want to accept the fact that they will eventually get old.

“I think universal design features can be likened to the first cell phones,” said John Migliaccio, director of research at MetLife’s Mature Market Institute.  “At first, very few people used them. Now, they are ubiquitous.  In fact, every kid has one. Consumers haven’t really gotten the message on universal design, but we feel they will.”

The slow acceptance is not unlike the responses to environmentally friendly homes.  For example, only 12 percent of respondents to a Metlife survey said they would pay more for a “green” home.  The same folks are willing to pay an average one-time amount of $6,732 if it would save $1,000 annually in utility costs.  While another 23 percent of respondents said they are concerned about the environment, it does not drive their decision to purchase.

The educational push by builders, architects and designers is to remove the “old” association from universal design, also known as “UD”.  Universal design advocates that all built environments not only be accessible to people regardless of age, size or physical ability, but also that the features of these environments be compelling and appear seamless to the design of the home.  These amenities and alternations can serve all ages, hence its name.

Builders are striving to create universal design applications that make it easier for someone to carry out daily activities such as preparing meals, climbing stairs and bathing, as well as changing the physical structure of a home to improve its overall safety and condition.  These attractive amenities no longer sing out “An old person lives here!” – and they can also enhance the resale value of the home.

The tools needed for homeowners to stay in their homes longer – or “age in place” – were brought to the forefront of the building community as a result of a cost survey of nursing homes, assisted-living communities, home care agencies, and adult day care services in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., that included national figures and data from 87 individual markets across the country.  For nursing homes, private-pay rates for long-term (custodial) nursing care were obtained for both private and semi-private rooms throughout the U.S.

The Met Life study, produced by LifePlans Inc., was conducted by telephone between July and October 2009.  Here are the key elements of the survey:

  • National average rates for a private room in a nursing home increased by 3.3 percent from $212 daily (or $77,380 annually) in 2008 to $219 daily (or $79,935 annually) in 2009. National average rates for a semi-private room in a nursing home increased by 3.7 percent from $191 daily (or $69,715 annually) in 2008 to $198 daily (or $72,270 annually) in 2009.
  • National average assisted-living base rates increased by 3.3 percent, from $3,031 monthly (or $36,372 annually) in 2008 to $3,131 monthly (or $37,572 annually) in 2009.
  • The 2009 national average hourly rate for home health aides increased by 5 percent, from $20 in 2008 to $21 in 2009. The national average hourly rate for homemaker/companions increased by 5.6 percent from $18 in 2008 to $19 in 2009.
  • Adult day care services national average daily rates increased by 4.7 percent from $64 in 2008 to $67 in 2009.

At assisted-living communities, costs were obtained for room and board (at least two meals per day, housekeeping and personal care) in one-bedroom apartments or private rooms with private baths.  Home care rates were based on hourly rates for home health aides at licensed agencies and agency-provided homemaker/companion services.  Adult day-service costs reflect daily rates at licensed facilities for the majority, though licensing requirements vary by state.

The bottom line is that there are not enough nursing homes to accommodate baby boomers’ future needs . . . even if they could afford the care.  It’s about cost and space.  So, a good look at incorporating universal design applications may be just what the doctor ordered.

Seeking Knowledge?  Get Involved in Disability Policy Forums

The Disability Policy Forums, sponsored by the Cornell University Employment Policy Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), are held quarterly in Washington, DC.  The topical theme of each Forum is discussed by nationally and internationally renowned scholars, activists, and policy makers.  The purpose of these forums is to raise awareness of important disability policy issues and to teach the public how to participate in disability policy debates in informed ways.

Recent forums have included topics such as “New Directions for Federal Contractors and Disability Affirmative Action”, “ODEP Update: New Directions for the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor” and “National Health Care Reform: What’s at Stake and Where are the Opportunities to Improve Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities?”.

The EDI advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the opportunities of people with disabilities through our projectstrainingtechnical assistanceresearch and publications.  For more information contact Susanne M. Bruyere, Ph.D., Cornell University Employment and Disability Institute (EDI), 201 Dolgen Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853, (607) 255-7727, (607) 255-2763 fax, (607) 255-2891 TYY,,

This is an article that will resonate with many of us.  If you are receiving this newsletter in the hardcopy version, but do have a computer, you can paste the link into your browser to read Ms. Bartlett’s complaint.

Courtesy for the Disabled

The New York Times, June 11, 2010

To the Editor:

Re “Slightly Disabled, Not Helpless or Dumb” (Complaint Box, June 6):

As the only elected official to my knowledge in the country with cerebral palsy, I read with interest Jennifer Bartlett’s account of dealing with people who have no idea how to behave toward people with disabilities.  Unfortunately, I have faced many of the same issues.

Ordinary New Yorkers expect to be treated according to a simple standard of common courtesy and respect, and those of us with disabilities are no different. Yet too often we are confronted by strangers who make bizarrely inappropriate comments or offer unnecessary and unasked-for expressions of sympathy.  There is a double standard here — as if we are not entitled to the same basic consideration taken for granted by others in their daily interactions.

While I work hard to ensure that the principle of equality is incorporated into public policy, Ms. Bartlett’s column is a reminder that equality begins with respect for people’s differences, and with overcoming deep-seated preconceptions about people with disabilities.

Micah Z. Kellner

Assemblyman, 65th District

Albany, NY June 8, 2010

"Newsletter – July 2010" table of contents

  1. Newsletter – July 2010
  2. 20th ANNIVERSARY:  ADA poised to open even more doors
  3. 20 Years After ADA, Accessibility Remains 'An Evolutionary Process'
  5. Steve Gold’s “Treasured Nuggets of Information”
  7. 2010 ADA Anniversary Tool Kit Available Online