1950s Housing Won't Meet Needs of Elderly

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., May 27 (UPI) — Some 90 percent of Arkansans say they will maintain their independence as they age but 81 percent say they expect their health will decline, researchers say.

Korydon Smith, Jennifer Webb and Brent Williams, all of the University of Arkansas, have collaborated on the book “Just Below the Line: Disability, Housing, and Equity in the South,” which says post-World War II housing does not fit the needs of aging baby boomers.

The researchers say housing design should incorporate the need to accommodate disability — either from aging or as a result of an accident.

“We just don’t understand the sheer number of people that struggle with some kind of disability, either daily or for a period of their life,” Webb says in a statement.

Mid-20th century housing is seriously out of date in terms of the way it was designed and also in terms of disrepair, the researchers say.

Main entries are for the most part inaccessible with steps leading to front porches and bathrooms and kitchens too small.

Housing to accommodate disabilities involves minimal interior structural walls, allowing for the reconfiguration of room spaces with movable storage cabinets, the researchers suggest.

“Though gender and racial inequality have held a long history in the South, age and disability inequality is, in our opinion, the most significant prejudice that exists in housing today,” Smith said.

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