WATERLOO, IA – Homecare in all segments is getting a lot of attention in our pandemic environment. It’s tough to see what’s happened in the segregated senior housing market with families pulling loved ones out of that segment in record numbers. Tele-health has become a real thing and virtual family events is a common occurrence.
We have Seniors living in single family homes, and in multi-generations more than ever. In many cultural ways it is bringing families together, and the family concept is getting an unexpected resurgence. Older family members who require assistance are being cared for by family members more often, and I think generations are appreciating each other more. This is all good, except for one thing.
Ninety-six percent of homes in the U.S. do not have accommodations for someone with a mobility deficit. Falls for people over 75 are the #1 cause for medical care, and the second leading cause of death. The vast majority of these falls happen due to unsafe home environments. Our current housing inventory needs to be upgraded for safety for all residents throughout the new modern lifespan—or what we like to call the Longevity Revolution.
VGM Live at Home and several other companies with a Home Accessibility focus are partnering with the Homes Renewed Coalition to support an effort to get a new bill introduced that would incentivize homeowners to invest in home safety upgrades. We want provisions that would help people be proactive with preventative measures and help homeowners who have a family member who needs upgrades due to change in mobility status or a life changing health incident. The bill would allow the main sponsors choices in how they want the tax relief to be administered.
Louis Tenenbaum, the leader of Homes Renewed is a semi-retired Home Access contractor and life-long advocate for making homes safe. He was the driving force behind the Senior Accessibility bill that was introduced in 2016. Through his Coalition we will be working with The Sheridan Group, a respected and connected Lobbying firm in DC. This effort will take money and some coordinated grass roots lobbying for us to get a bill introduced and passed.
There are two reasons why we are jumping with both feet into this effort. The first being that our request brings with it an obvious need that is not being addressed, and should have low-to-no cost (some would argue savings when you factor in fewer falls). The second reason is that we will have no better timing then now to get high consideration for this measure. In the next Congress, there will be much focus on post pandemic health measures, and homecare will be looked at as a priority. In our opinion, there is no better time or opportunity for a bill like this than the first six months of next year.
We ask you to join us in supporting this cause. Click on this link for Joining the HomesRenewed Coalition. We understand this has been a challenging year, so there are several options to help with small monthly contributions. The money needed to get this effort started is very doable if we can get some commitments.
Let’s recognize that the timing of this opportunity will never be better and team together to go for it now and not kick ourselves later. This would help the home access industry and all others who participate in senior in-home services. Most importantly, it will allow millions of seniors to be better able to afford a home environment where they can live well, and that is the right thing to do.
Jim Greatorex is vice president of VGM Live at Home, Waterloo, Iowa.