Shower chairs and grab bars are some of the adaptive bathroom equipment used in this study. Photo from Healthy Community Living (
What do showering, brushing your teeth, and “visiting the porcelain throne” have to do with energy levels and community participation? More than you might think, especially for people with mobility impairments.
Effort Capacity and Choice, a current research project at RTC:Rural led by Andrew Myers, is working to better understand how what happens in the bathroom impacts what happens outside of the bathroom. The project is a collaboration between the RTC:Rural, the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and the New Directions program within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana.
Previous RTC:Rural research has shown that many people who use mobility equipment live in homes that do not meet their needs, specifically in regards to the accessibility of their bathrooms and the entrances to their homes. 56% live in homes with inaccessible bathrooms, and 57% live in homes with a stepped entrance.
This is especially troubling as the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase in the next few decades with an aging American population. In rural areas, where people are already more likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, elderly, and have a disability, this housing need will be especially severe.
RTC:Rural analysis of the American Time Use Survey has also shown that people with mobility impairments bathe less often, and when they do bathe they spend more time doing so. The Effort Capacity and Choice project builds on this information by investigating whether the amount of effort a person thinks they must exert affects their choices to be active at home and in their community. Continue reading
RTC:Rural collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D., presenting at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine December 12, 2016 housing workshop.
RTC staff brought back some important takeaways from the recent national accessible housing workshop in Washington, DC.
RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D. and project collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, recently returned from participating in this event that continued the dialog about the importance of housing for the health and quality of life of people who are aging and people with disabilities.
On December 12th, 2016 Drs. Ravesloot and Ward attended the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) workshop, “Affordable and Accessible Housing for Vulnerable Older Adults and People with Disabilities Living in the Community: A Workshop.” Dr. Ward presented on a panel entitled “Design Features of Accessible Housing for Older Adults and People with Disabilities” while Dr. Ravesloot was on the planning committee for the event and moderated one of the panels.
RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., shared the following important takeaways upon his return:
1. Housing is a platform for the health of people with disabilities and older adults.
On December 12, 2016, RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D. and project collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D. Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, will participate in a workshop on accessible housing hosted by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). The day-long workshop is entitled “Housing for Vulnerable Older Adults and People with Disabilities.”
Housing influences community participation, independent living, and overall health and wellbeing, especially for vulnerable populations. In the United States, the demand for accessible and affordable housing for people with disabilities and older adults greatly exceeds the supply. This imbalance will continue to grow over the coming years as the population shifts to include a greater number of older adults and people living with disabilities.
Dr. Ravesloot was approached by the NAS to be on the planning committee to represent the perspective of research in rural communities. “I am pleased that the organizers want to highlight rural, and especially that accessibility, not just affordability, is a main focus,” he said. In addition to providing planning assistance and nominating Dr. Ward to present, Dr. Ravesloot is also moderating one of the panels. Continue reading