A Shenandoah University doctoral student’s occupational therapy capstone project is set to help Winchester-area residents learn more about aging in place. Carolyn Adams ’23 is partnering with Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity to teach a series of classes about the concept.
“I wanted to develop a program that would benefit seniors and their caregivers in our community to keep them and their loved ones within the home for as long as possible,” Adams said. “I came across Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity and saw their mission aligned well with my program, which is how my partnership with them developed.” Since 2020, Blue Ridge Habitat for Humanity has assisted members of the older adult community to age in place, regardless of functional or financial status.
Aging in place is a concept growing more familiar as the large baby boom generation grows older. It “is the preferred method of aging as opposed to an institutional setting such as skilled nursing or long-term care facilities,” Adams said. “The problem with this is that many older individuals and their caregivers don’t know the best ways to effectively age in place. This program will help the community as a whole by providing the elderly and their caregivers with the tools and resources they need to stay safe within the home.”
To help people better understand the idea, Adams and Habitat are offering a series of seven free, one-hour sessions at the university’s Health Professions Building (1775 N. Sector Court, Winchester) on the campus of Winchester Medical Center, at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays, beginning Feb. 1. A Zoom option is also available for those who can’t attend in person.
Ideas explored in these sessions include:
- what aging in place is
- fall risks and assistive technology
- home modifications
- home safety checklists
- community resources available to promote aging in place
- kitchen safety and meal preparation
- a home exercise program for the promotion of mobility
Occupational therapists are well-suited to providing such information. “Occupational therapists can help individuals successfully age in place by providing expertise on environmental adaptations, accommodations, education, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle regardless of their current functional status,” Adams said.
Even before the first class, the program has captured attention. “With the public popularity of this program, we are currently working with a few different locations throughout the community to hold more sessions as well,” Adams said.
Registration is required for the free program. To register, call 540-692-3906 or email Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.