By Dick Weinman, AARP Volunteer and ALF Living Guru
My problem doesn’t just end with the “stretch.”( See March 30). Designs in assisted living facilities (ALFs) may not align with Americans with Disabilities Act.
Struggling to sign in and out, is only one of the problems I wrestle with every day. It is the failure of the architects and builders to realize that people with disabilities and confined to wheel chairs would live here. We would call this ALF home.
The reaching problems I presented in the March 30 blog, are the result of contemporary redesign. The “furthermore” stuff was embedded over a decade ago, when the facility was built.
For example, put yourself in my bathroom. There’s a shower enclave off to the left side of the entrance. A toilet is on the opposite side. Next to it, stands (or in my world – sits) a counter, with a sink. I suppose it’s for washing and brushing one’s teeth. The room has two cabinets built in to the wall, one above the toilet tank, and one to the right of and above the sink. There’s a mirror above the sink.
A homo erectus can stand over the sink – close to the counter. H/She can brush his/her teeth, see his/her self waist-up in the mirror; s/he can easily open the cabinet door and extricate a bar of soap or a tube of tooth paste.
Me, however, being a homo sittouraeous, can only be true to my homo sapiens species and . . . sit. Sitting at the sink – in reality, sitting under the sink - I can only see my head in the mirror – I’m glad I never wear ties. Worst of all, when I brush my teeth, I am boobs up against the sink counter. I try to enlist gravity on my side, and lean my head back while brushing – thus stretching my disabled neck tendons in the hope the detritus of brushing will stay in my oral cavity. But the oozing tooth paste flows from my mouth, tangles in my beard, continues its inexorable downward drip - and stains my shirt. I don’t mind if the drip is on a T shirt I wear for working out, but a circle of white gook looks sloppy on a dress shirt.
A preemptive strike against the subsequent clothes washing would have been to design the sinks according to ADA standards. A lower sink would have prevented the nasty, dribble, drip, the result of toothpastey saliva.
Alas, as I articulated in the previous blog, I came to realize that the architect’s head was not lifted to the brightness of the sun, but was immersed in the darkness of one of the body’s several orifices.