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This free illustrated downloadable pdf of THE DO-ABLE RENEWABLE HOME is a 2005 revision of a USGPO/AARP publication I first used in the early 1990's to help  in my caregiving efforts for my mother.  Subtitled "Making Your Home Fit Your Needs", it includes affordable do-it-yourself methods for adapting the home to meet physical limitation needs — disability needs as well as for the frail elderly, as I found when my own permanent and worsening injuries and disabling illnesses made daily housebound life a seriously losing battle.  Renters' adaptation rights under law are briefly summarized in the pdf.  And below the orange-peel are related pieces of information I've found and in some cases have used in the past twenty-eight years, for myself and for people who came into the public library where I was working when "it" all began.

KosAbility logoKosAbility is a Sunday 4PM PST community series by volunteer diarists, as a gathering for people living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues. Our use of "disability" includes temporary as well as permanent conditions, from small, gnawing problems to major, life-threatening ones. Our use of "love someone" extends to beloved members of other species.

Our discussions are open threads in the context of this community. Feel free to comment on the diary topic, ask questions of the diarist or generally, share something you've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about your situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered. If you are interested in contributing a diary, contact series coordinator postmodernista.

I gave away my copy of The Do-Able Renewable Home some years ago to a friend in a similar situation who wanted to make some changes like the very modest ones I had made.  So now, in googling to find another copy I also found useful hits such as more about it at Google Books.

Another was The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification, which offers other adaptation publications at modest cost.

This page of lists "Organizations that Promote Barrier-Free Environments and/or Offer Information"; and the Find-A-Certified-Aging-in-Place-Specialist Find A Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) page of the National Assn of Home Builders is more on the building-contractor end of the affordability spectrum.

This was my search for current renters' rights information on making modifications to apartments and rented homes. (Nolo Press offers some publications that may help with that too, such as Disabled Renters' Housing Rights Book — a pageful of information about that is here for an idea of what they cover).  

Online or at your local public library, or in the old fashioned phone book for your area under city and county government, you may be able to find local Aging and/or Disability offices for related information. Back when I first began to be disabled (1986), government agencies like those in many places assisted in getting through the hoops of building wheelchair ramps over outdoor front or back steps, even sometimes helping cover the costs based on financial need, or simply sending skilled people who did the work. Many of those government offices are still in place, if under more restricted budgets, and may offer further services and direct caregivers and people with limitations and disabilities to other local agencies offering help to make "activities of daily life" more manageable, whether the disability is age-related, injury-related, illness-related, or "other".

Many non-profit organizations that did a lot of good have gone out of operation nationally or locally, some due to mismanagement scandals, others as donations dried up under the pressure of 9/11 contribution appeals, the Haiti earthquake, the 2005 hurricane disasters, and the economic downturn. But usable information and knowledgeable people are still out there.

What books, webpages, local government agencies, rehabilitation hospitals, physical therapists, organizations, etc, have you found useful in finding out how to adapt closet doors, room doors and doorways, how to get close enough to the kitchen sink to get dishes washed, easier-to-use water-taps on sinks and showers, and similar changes that made a difference in daily life? What idea for contact-finding information panned out for you when changing the living-space was crucial? What changes have you made to where you live that have made a difference in daily coping?


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Comment Preferences

  •  Upcoming schedule (17+ / 0-)

    We're swapping with recoveringConservative the Open Thread first Monday of the Month:

         March 2 -  recoveringConservative writing Part 2, with a link to Part 1 published Feb 19, about his family's experiences with his daughter's mental illness.

         March 9 -  OPEN THREAD NIGHT

    and then

              March 16 -    your diary here
              March 23 -    Two Articles from the Patient Safety Movement & a Personal "Case Study" by postmodernista

    (March 23 is a "co-production" between our fearless leader and mettlefatigue, to experiment with collaborative diaries as a possibility others also might like to try - at the current time, we haven't found a way to have two names be listed as author at the top, 'tho.)

              March 30 -    your diary here too
              April 7 - OPEN THREAD NIGHT
              April 14 -    your diary here too
              April 21 -        et cetera
              April 28 -    & so forth

    Kosmail to postmodernista (her link is in the boilerplate/logo-box) the date you'd like and your working title or topic, or post a comment right below here. Diaries can be one paragraph, or two, or twenty. Whatever matters to you matters to all of us.

  •  Good evening! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, ladybug53, Aunt Pat

    I hope that all is well with you.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:13:11 PM PST

  •  There are some building codes that are geared (9+ / 0-)

    toward the disabled that should be made standard across the board for every construction.  Three foot doors, wider hallways, higher toilets, raising electrical outlets, lowering electrical switches, a low threasholds at exterior doors.  I'm sure that there probably are more ideas that could be made common to all construction and not 'special' for 'special' needs people.  These changes will help people be able to age in place a little better as well.

    •  true that! (6+ / 0-)

      there was a moment during the housing bubble when the up-scaler residential construction where i live did seem to have much more utilitarian widths of hallways and doors, but gradually the cost-savings of narrower crept in.  the houses on my parents' street (a modest los angeles suburb) were built around 1948 and all had interior and exterior doorways wide enuf for wheelchairs & walkers without modification, hallway ditto.  

      when i first moved to where i live now, i was constantly whacking one arm or the other against doorframes and wrists/hands against doorknobs in the apartments i lived in, they were so much narrower.   and where i live now i still routinely bump myself several times a week.

      last july i had to be ambulanced for dehydration, but the e.m.s. crew could not get their gurney into my hallway and barely got it in the door! "oh, good thing you have a wheelchair," they said.  and that's how they got me outside and put me on the gurney in fronta god and everybody.  lovely...

      •  My mother was handicapped when they had their (7+ / 0-)

        last house built, as the old one just wasn't working any longer (old house was just that an OLD house, built in 1910 - beautiful woodwork, solid wood doors, etc).  When talking with the builder, they had all the outlets raised, switches lowered, lever handles on the doors, wide doors, wide hallway, etc.  They tried to get the low threashold, but the builder must have been clueless.  The garage is a 3 stall one.  They had a concrete ramp put in in the garage, meets code for length / rise ratios.  The shower in the master bath has a pretty low threashold on it, about an inch.  I know that a wheelchair can be easily pushed into the shower.  When dad passes, sister and I will have no problem selling the house because of these features.

    •  my dad, several years ago, (5+ / 0-)

      noticed at an RV dealership, what has since evolved into 'tiny homes'- cute little structures, more house-like than an RV, but classified that way so there aren't any property taxes and they are for the most part mobile. We stopped to look inside several of them, and the thing that I noticed was that they had virtually none of those features. There were narrow doors, round doorknobs instead of handles, stairs, narrow hallways...

      The whole notion of 'tiny homes', mobility, is attractive, but it seemed that no one had considered such things in designing that line.

      Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

      by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:30:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  consider there is less roof weight to support, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        postmodernista, Aunt Pat

        you'd think they coulda been made with much roomier doorways without risking collapse.

        if i understand correctly, building codes are under the jurisdictions of cities and counties, with only some state-level/state-wide requirements.  

        the only nationwide requirements i know of (tho i could very easily be wrong) are embodied in tenant rights under the Americans With Disabilities act, and similar legislation, which the pdf goes into a lil bit.

        •  You'd think so, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue, Aunt Pat

          and I would imagine a lot of the structure would be metal studs and joists that have a lot more stability than wood.

          I think that you are correct on the building codes, and many places have none. Also, landlords who do not advertise vacancies may have no compliance responsibility with regard to ADA standards.

          Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

          by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:43:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  landlords who don't adver dunt haz to comply? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            postmodernista, Aunt Pat, blueoasis

            that is sooo messed up!

            part of the problems are that once a building/house has gone successfully 'thru the inspection processes while under construction, the code inspectors are not usually gonna come back unless someone contacts them to say there is something substandard, from what a local inspector told me:  there is just not the personnel to do routine periodic inspections anywhere in the u.s.   so except for them being alerted by constructions permits which they follow up on, they have to be alerted by complaints.

            SORRY, MY COMPUTER FROZE UP HERE FOR A WHILE. it does that sometimes.

            •  this is Texas, remember (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mettle fatigue

              and folks don't cotton to no newfangled uppity ideas like access and human rights and all, you know.

              Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

              by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:45:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  not much in "far west" texas either! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                postmodernista, blueoasis

                i.e., california oil country.  i have often wondered about what the airborne and waterborne chemicals thrown off by the petroleum industry are doing to the brainz of people who hafta live in the midst of it.

                nothing good, of course, but more specifically i do wonder.

                e.g., what if those fumes (and or chemicals from auto exhaust) are neuroendocrine disruptors?  might explain a lot about obesity in america, cognitive disorders in america, stuff like that.  i trawl the medical literature but haven't found any studies like that as yet.  gee i wonder why...

                •  It's kinda weird (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mettle fatigue, BlackSheep1

                  that having grown up in the panhandle, I never had a single allergy till I moved to central Texas, and suffer from that to this day.

                  I always know I'm getting close to home when I can smell the hydrogen sulfide.

                  Don't forget the sinkholes- those are pretty spectacular in Texas as well.

                  Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

                  by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:21:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  are the sinkholes hazardous chemical-wise? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    besides falling in them or them caving out from under oneself driving on the road or under the home, i mean!

                    •  I don't know about chemical-wise (4+ / 0-)

                      but they've been known to eat roads, and whole towns.

                      Wink and Kermit, Texas, and just south of Carlsbad NM have some spectacular examples of sinkholes,

                      And several years ago, some brilliant person or group wanted to store nuclear waste in the underground salt domes of far west Texas and eastern New Mexico.

                      Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

                      by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:48:19 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  oh NOES!!!!!! (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        postmodernista, chimene, blueoasis

                        in my last year of highschool i did a term paper on nuke that completely reversed my previous positive position. (this was the mid-1960s, and Israel had been operating a nuclear desalination plant for water reclamation since about 1956 so my original foolishness is forgiveable or at least understandable, i hope).

                        i got materials from the federal level, the states thru'out the colorado plateau, & additional.  someone from NM sent me a bumpersticker, "Welcome to New Mexico, Playground of the Atomic Energy Commission".

                        one of the things the aforementioned AEC (now Nuclear Regulatory Commission unless they've renamed it again?) was a thin book called, "The Romance of Uranium".

                        yes, really. (i still have it around here somewhere).

                        in the 1980s i met a cousin whose husband had been employer as a "jumper" (actually crawler - 'thru small-diameter access tunnels doing various kinds of repair, reportage, etc,) in a nuclear power plant in southern california (probably the one near Whittier ... i'm blanking on the name of it) - no benefits, because all those workers were temps ... employed only until their exposure badges reached maxium.  around the same time, I knew a little gaggle of SCA members who were all draftspersons at i think diablo canyon, employed to draught how the thing actually ended up built as distinct from the original blueprints.  i worried for the genes of all those peoples' children...

  •  Lots of resources there. (8+ / 0-)

    The "aging in place" information may be a valuable tool for my mother-in-law, who recently lost her husband. She's coping well, but there's a family member trying to push her into a retirement home. Come to think of it, nothing's going to shut that one up, but the info may still be useful in the straightforward sense.  :)  

    The biggest modification I've made was getting new steps for my trailer. The doors are about three feet off the ground and they come with barely-adequate steps.

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:31:38 PM PST

    •  what changes did you make to your steps? n/t (5+ / 0-)
      •  When I finally got SSDI... (5+ / 0-)

        I was owed a fair chunk o' change. So I had a sizable wooden deck built. My wife had always wanted one, and I finally had a justification for the expense.

        One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

        by Darwinian Detritus on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:50:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that does sound better! hope your mom-in-law's (5+ / 0-)

          situation will be ok.  the whole retirement-home and assisted-living thing can be fraught with perils, now that the profitability for corporations owning/running them has become such an investment attraction with baby-boomers looking around for living situations like that. PBS Frontline did an absolutely hair-raising hour on residences like those around the country - they're subject to very little regulation if they don't claim to offer medical skilled services.   yet many of them employ low-paid unskilled staff to take control of medications, supply services such as bathing assistance, decide when to call ambulances & do so without notifying family so it becomes in effect a patient-dumping action ... really appalling.

          there have also of course been some terrific non-profit senior residences operating for decades here and there around the country, providing facilities for just community living for folks who prefer being around others their own age who may even still be working, with transition to assisted living when needed & even skilled nursing wings, all in the same place.  they're just have trouble keeping going.

          even the motion picture old age home is having trouble! some high muckety-mucks almost sold the place out from under the residents a couple of years ago.  revenue from the Oscars broadcast advertisers partly goes to support that facility, but most of us don't have humongous annual tv shows bringing any kind of cashflow in! ;)

    •  oh, i'm gonna add a tag "aging in place" THNX! nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      postmodernista, Aunt Pat, bartcopfan
  •  found something else (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, Aunt Pat, blueoasis

    here is an occupational therapy link

    I don't know without further research, but it is possible that OT and PT schools might have student programs that would provide assessments, guidance, or even labor for their areas. Could be worth a phone call or three.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:40:13 PM PST

  •  Over the top (5+ / 0-)

    It helps to make sensible choices over locating accessibility aids as this story from Scotland shows:

    Clare Lally, 33, spent two years campaigning for improved access for her wheelchair-bound daughter Katie, 7, after the council gave them a home at the top of three flights of stairs.
    Officials eventually relented, but Ms Lally was left shocked by their solution – a £40,000, 10-level chicane-like steel ramp which almost fills their whole front garden.
    The winding 60-metre path is proving a long way round for Ms Lally and Katie and is now being used by local skateboarders

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:40:37 PM PST

    •  yow! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue, chimene, BlackSheep1

      maybe they could have just swap this family with someone on the first floor? That doesn't sound like a good solution at all.

      Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

      by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:49:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That almost sounds like... (5+ / 0-)

      someone being vindictive. I'm with pm, the council should have just admitted they screwed up putting this family on the third floor.

      One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

      by Darwinian Detritus on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:56:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the photos at that article ! (4+ / 0-)

      but the situation kind of sounds like (as i believe they say there, or possibly australia) a cock-up all around, to have allocated a 2nd-floor flat in a steeply-graded council housing building (if it is that, i.e., public-subsidized housing) for a family with a member in a wheelchair.

      •  Think a case of availability (4+ / 0-)

        The place is a house with a particularly steep front garden.  The three flights of steps go from the roadway to the front door of the house.

        As far as I can gather from this quote from the mother, this was the only property the council had which was suitable internally for the daughter's needs as the family is reported as having campaigned for two years for better access after being moved there:

        We had to move to the house to get easier access for Katie and we have fought all these months to get that.

        Presumably the ramp has to be that long because of the maximum gradient allowed under the building regulations. I'm pretty sure for the price they could have installed an external elevator but likely would go against their standard practice of installing a "wheelchair ramp".

        "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:31:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hey Y'all (4+ / 0-)

    don't forget to hit the tip jar, please- this is one of those diaries that has broad appeal, and really needs to be seen. Let's don't let it scroll of the list without the attention it deserves.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 04:52:33 PM PST

  •  my computer froze up for a bit, sorry if i missed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    postmodernista, blueoasis

    comments! :(

  •  I apologize as well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, BlackSheep1

    had to step over to the email for a bit. kitkatbar sent an email from her boat! She and the other deckhands get to make supper for everybody after the next port call, southern food specifically, so I had to type up a few suggestions and recipes. Squee!

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:41:27 PM PST

  •  Thanks Mettle. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue, postmodernista

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:03:51 PM PST

  •  First timer here--thanks for the diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mettle fatigue

    Glad I got curious and checked it out.  (Temporarily) able-bodied here, but one can only plan these things so far.

    Thanks for the collection of ideas and promises of more!

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:32:26 AM PST

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