Friday, May 4, 2018
The Continuing "Problem" of Wheelchairs and Walkers in CCRCs and Assisted Living
Recently I was asked the question whether a CCRC could bar new residents from moving into independent living units, if they were using wheelchairs or walkers. The question perplexes me, not just because of the legal implications under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal laws, but because I do understand what was motivating the question, at least in part. It was a concern about "sustainability" of the community living model, and the need to attract younger, healthier residents. In a sense, it was an argument that "I don't mind, but others might."
Paula Span, longtime columnist for the New York Times takes this issue to another venue -- "assisted living" -- where some operators are attempting to ban those who use wheelchair, even temporarily. The cited reason is that "we cannot accomodate a wheel-chair bound patient." She captures the dilemma well in her title, "Wheelchairs Prohibited In the Last Place You'd Expect."
Ultimately, I think we all need to be more comfortable with the fact that we do grow old and we do sometimes need assistance. But, I understand, this is tough to accept.
Response to Elder Law
As an elder myself, my peers continually remark on the increase of walkers and wheelchairs in our CCRC compared to the good old days (15 years ago).
Unfortunately the olders are as ageist as the rest of society. The wheelchair or walker is a symbol to many that they are getting older. It's a lot easier to deny the aging process when you aren’t using adaptive equipment.
I had the opportunity to attend a rehab training course at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, one of the country's premier rehabilitation centers when I was a young nurse. I saw what was possible with proper adaptive and assistive devices to improve the quality of life for both young and old. It was an eye opening experience for me as I went on to be the rehab nurse in the skilled nursing facility where I worked.
LeadingAge's vision is “An America freed from ageism.” I am hopeful that providers and vendors will get serious about that vision.
Communities need to plan for and build proper parking and storage of the rolling stock in meeting rooms and dining rooms. Right now it is an afterthought.
I think Ashton Applewhite's book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, should be required reading for everyone. Or at least watch her 11 minute TED talk.
Posted by: Ann MacKay | May 5, 2018 6:42:23 PM