The Holidays are Coming – Visit-ability (Part One)

“Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, holidays are coming … watch out, look around, something’s coming, coming to town, coming to your town, holidays are coming, something magical, can you see it shining bright? Tis the season …”

These are the lyrics from Coca Cola’s famous “Holidays are Coming” advertising that has been around for decades and usually runs to announce the soon to arrive holiday season.

Here we are again at the beginning of another such season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the doorstep. A time for family and friends to visit and share the warmth of the season together – that is assuming our homes are “visit-able.”

Visit-ability, a trend that has been gaining more and more support starting in the mid-80s is a movement/philosophy that seeks to insure that all homes are at least partially accessible to people with mobility impairments, even though those in fact might not be the owners of the homes but rather occasional visitors.

The importance of this simple philosophy can be seen even more when one realizes that America’s 50-plus population is likely to exceed 100 million by 2010. Ten thousand people will reach the age of 50 every single day and this 50-plus consumer base will account for more than one-quarter of all new home sales in the future. One can argue that making a home visit-able may even have a direct positive impact on its resale ability.

In fact, back in 2006 the National Association of Home Builders stated that “Our visiting parents aren’t getting any younger (and neither are we). Visit-ability in entry doors, barrier-free showers and non-stoop dishwashers show buyers you care” were in their list of emerging trends. Visit-ability modifications also make homes easier for people who might develop mobility limitations to still visit friends and family, rather than have to turn down invitations or not be invited at all. Therefore, visit-ability can even act as a first step towards a fully universally-designed home.

These features provide basic universal access and allow currently able-bodied people to remain in their homes if they do in fact develop a disability, and as such to start to age-in-place, rather than to be forced to do expensive renovations, relocate to a different house, live in an inaccessible home which endangers their health and safety, or move from the community they love and feel safe and oriented in into a care facility prematurely.

Many of us baby boomers are also taking care of parents, and parents are visiting their children’s homes or living with us even now, so maybe we should look at the upcoming holiday season as a magical opportunity to prepare our homes to match the warmth of our hospitality through their visit-ability.

So how do we go about making these necessary changes to be able to entertain our families regardless of their individual impairments you ask? Well, some of these modifications can be temporary and barely cost you any money at all.

We’ll cover some of these specifics in Part Two.

About the Author: Raad Ghantous is the principal of Raad Ghantous & Associates and is an expert in luxury hospitality, wellness centers, and medical & day spa developments.  He is also the owner of Your Home For A Lifetime, an A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design/Aging in place, full service design/build firm with over 15 years of experience  specializing in developing integrating elegant and seamless designs/modifications to new or existing structures.

Chuck Gould and Volunteers of America Push the Envelope on Senior Care Models

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I spoke to Chuck Gould, president and CEO of Volunteers of America.  I first ran into the folks from VOA when one of their marketing people, David Burch, solicited questions for their panel with Newt Gingrich and Tom Daschle.

Upon researching Volunteers of America, I was surprised (and impressed) to find that they are:

  • The largest not-for-profit provider for elders and individuals with disability
  • The 4th largest non-profit skilled nursing provider
  • The 6th largest non-profit assisted living provider

I really enjoyed the discussion with Chuck for a couple of reasons.  First, I could really sense the commitment and passion in his work – you could feel it from the conversation.  Second, they are really pushing the envelope in terms of changing the way they think about and provide senior care.  The organization has many communities throughout the country, providing them an opportunity to experiment with different levels of care and alternative care models.  Because they are not tied to a single model of care, they are free to pick and choose the components of each that work.

Enjoy the interview!

About Chuck Gould and Volunteers of America

Charles W. (Chuck) Gould serves as national president and chief executive officer of Volunteers of America. He provides leadership to one of America’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit, faith-based organizations.

Gould oversees the organization and its more than 16,000 employees and 90,000 volunteers. With combined revenues of almost $900 million, and programs that help more than 2 million people in more than 400 communities, the organization continues to grow.

Before his selection as national president in 1995, Gould was president of Volunteers of America Health Services, a division of the organization that provides skilled nursing care and other health services. Previously he was an attorney with Arnold & Porter law firm in Washington, D.C.

Gould is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and a member of the Minnesota, District of Columbia and Colorado State bars.  He serves as chairman of the ASAE Key Philanthropic Organization Committee; as a member of the board of directors and previous chairman of the National Human Services Assembly; and is a member of the board of directors of the National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) and the American Association of Home and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. We offer a variety of services for older Americans that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life – everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time, around-the-clock care. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including the frail elderly, those with disabilities or requiring specialized nursing care, and many others. Our work touches the mind, body, heart-and ultimately the spirit-of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services.

Contact Information

For more information about Volunteers of America:

Volunteers of America
1660 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(800) 899-0089

Dr. Kevin O’Neil Helps Keep Your Brain in Shape

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I had the privilege to speak to Dr. Kevin O’Neil.  I first met Dr. O’Neil at Brookdale’s Brain Symposium a few months ago at UCLA, where I left quite impressed with the his approach to brain fitness and brain health.  Dr. O’Neil combines a deep understanding of both the science behind brain health and the practical advise that non-doctors require to do something about.  Congratulations, Dr. O’Neil, for being a Leader in Elder Care.

I hope you all enjoy the interview.

About Dr. Kevin O’Neil

Dr. Kevin O’Neil is the Medical Director for Brookdale Senior Living (BSL), the largest senior housing provided in the United States. Dr. O’Neil practiced and taught geriatric medicine for over 27 years (seven years in Massachusetts and 20 years in Sarasota, FL).  A graduate of Boston College and Georgetown University School of Medicine, he completed his internship in Internal Medicine at the Washington Hospital Center and his residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.  He was formerly an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Aging at the University of South Florida.

He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and is a member of the American Geriatrics Society and the American Medical Directors Association.

Dr. O’Neil is co-editor and a contributing writer to Optimal Aging Manual, which Art Linkletter has called “the great master book for the boomers.”

Taking Your Feet for Granted? Meet Ray Margiano, Founder of Foot Solutions and Leader in Elder Care

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I wanted to step back from residential and medical care and focus on something that many of us take for granted.  The simple fact is that for seniors, foot comfort and correctly-fitted shoes can make the difference between independence and comfort or pain and immobility.  As an athlete, I thought I knew a lot about shoes – the how and why the need to fit.  When you talk to Ray Margiano, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions, you quickly learn the mind-numbing depth of science that goes into shoes.   I’ve named Ray Margiano a Leader in Elder Care because of the passion he brings to his business and for the incredible impact that his work has on millions of seniors who want to keep moving forward.  Kudos, Ray!  And to the rest of our readers, I hope you enjoy the interview…with your shoes ON!

About Ray Magiano

Ray Margiano PhD, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions, established Foot Solutions at the end of 2000 with three employees and no funding, to provide custom orthotics and shoes to fit and provide proper support, and to address the individual foot health needs of a wide variety of consumers. By the end of 2008, he grew the company to more than 240 franchises worldwide and a corporate staff of over 50 people with sales around $100-million. Foot Solutions has already signed agreements in 16 countries with master developers and are projecting five new countries per year with a continuing growth rate of 50 new units a year.

Ray’s business philosophy is to give something back to the community and to be part of positive change and energy. As such, Foot Solutions provides many outreach programs donating time and money to organizations active in health and wellness, children’s obesity, diabetes and foot care. Ray also serves on the American Diabetes Association’s advisory board, is a member of the Board of Governors at University of New Haven and on the Board of Directors for the National Shoe Retailers Association.

Ray has received many awards in business throughout his career, including the 2008 Cobb Chamber Small Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year Atlanta 1994, Blue Chip Award Winner, and International Fran¬chise Award for International Excellence, University of New Haven Distinguished Alumni Award and Distinguished Bartels Fellowship Award University of New Haven, among others. He is a frequent speaker on franchising, the footwear industry, pedorthics and Balance Walking, a low-impact exercise using modified ski poles with wrist straps that increases circulation muscles and aerobic fitness.

Ray has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of New Haven, a Masters degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in International Business Administration from Canbourne University. Before founding Foot Solutions, Ray held high-level positions at Sikorsky Aircraft, Sybron and Textron and also founded Heel Quik, the world’s largest personal services franchise with over 700 operations in more than 30 countries. Ray is also the author of “Balance Walking”, which teaches about the physical benefits of Nordic Pole walking.

How Ray Margiano Described Foot Solutions

Foot Solutions is a leading multinational retailer of proper-fitting, comfortable, high-performance shoes, custom inserts and technology-driven health and wellness products to consumers across the globe. With more than 240 stores in 13 countries, Foot Solutions is the world’s largest health and wellness franchise dedicated to foot care.

CEO Ray Margiano PhD, founded Foot Solutions in 2000 after a 20-year career in the foot care and pedorthic industry to provide custom orthotics and shoes to fit and provide proper support, and to address the individual needs of a wide variety of consumers.

The company’s philosophy of better health through your feet is put in practice by providing a full line of quality shoes, arch supports and foot care accessories for all lifestyles. A key part of the Foot Solutions experience – and a core aspect of the company’s overall product and philosophy – is an individualized consultation for each customer to determine the proper shoe, orthotic or other foot care product for their specific needs.

Foot Solutions’ staff, versed in both foot pathology and properly fitting shoes, helps customers make choices that will support their foot care plan, accommodate foot problems, or simply offer both comfort and style. Foot Solutions offers foot care products specifically tailored to individuals with 18 health problems including heel and arch pain, diabetic foot disorders, arthritis, sports injuries, and back pain through expertly fitting footwear, arch supports and other foot pain relief products. It also provides shoes and other products designed to accommodate and alleviate foot injuries, products to optimize athletic performance, fitness and training aids, and corrective and occupational footwear, including nonslip shoes.

Part of Foot Solutions’ philosophy is to contribute in positive ways to the community on a local, national and global level. To that end, the company provides opportunities for its associates to participate in programs related to children’s obesity, diabetics, fitness, and retirement communities. Foot Solutions is also a consistent supporter of the President’s Challenge program for getting Americans back in shape and Soles for Souls, which donates shoes for flood, fire and the underprivileged.