Archive for September, 2014

A Universal Design Creates Accessible Housing for Seniors

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Most senior home owners want to continue living in their homes as they grow older, but their homes may not be suited to the needs of an aging senior. Due to physical limitations that can arise with age, a senior might eventually find it too difficult to go up and down stairs or turn on/off a faucet. That’s why in an effort to ensure continued accessibility, architects, builders, and senior care professionals recommend renovating or building housing units using the universal design model.

The universal design model calls for:

  • All rooms to be on a single level
  • No-step entryways
  • Extra-wide doorways and hallway
  • Switches and outlets reachable from any height
  • Lever-style handles on doors and faucets

By removing the need to navigate stairs, providing room to maneuver wheelchairs, walkers and medical equipment, and making doors, faucets and switches easily accessible, the universal design model, in theory, allows people of all ages and physical abilities (especially those who have limited mobility and trouble turning knobs) to live in the same residence. According to a recent report from The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard, only 57% of housing units today have more than one of these features.

Rather than remodel their homes to be more accessible, some seniors find it more practical to move. The same report notes that more than 90% of seniors who move in their 80s relocate to homes with single floor living, 63% move to homes with no-step entries and 35% to homes with extra-wide doors and hallways.

In some cases, other modifications (roll-in showers, slip resistant floors, additional lighting, etc.) are needed to make a home more accessible, but for many seniors incorporating universal design features will keep their homes comfortable and safe for years.

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Flu Shots for Seniors: Standard-Dose versus High-Dose

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Flu season is looming and can start as early as October. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea while others may have respiratory symptoms without a fever. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age, especially people 65 years or older as they are more susceptible to the flu virus than younger adults.

People 65 years or older can choose to receive the standard-dose flu vaccine or a high-dose vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose. Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the amount of antigen — the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody — contained in regular flu shots. Since the human immune system becomes weaker with age, the additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in seniors. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors than the standard-dose vaccine.

While the CDC strongly encourages seniors to get vaccinated, it does not endorse one dose over the other. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and which dose is right for you.