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Oklahoma County seniors talk about housing concerns at summit

BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com August 15, 2012

Restrictive housing is a major obstacle for Oklahomans who want to maintain their independence into their golden years.

That's what a focus group of about a hundred Oklahoma County seniors told builders, bankers and architects at a “Senior Summit” on Tuesday.

Hosted by Oklahoma County Social Services, United Way of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma chapter of AARP and Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association, the daylong seminar was about giving seniors an outlet to voice their concerns about aging.

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“There are more than 110,000 people over the age of 60 in Oklahoma County,” said Blair Schoeb, senior vice president with United Way of Central Oklahoma. “These are complicated issues and the people who wait until the last minute, until that fall has happened — they're the ones who actually find themselves with the fewest options.”

Seniors want to maintain their independence, and they want to stay at home, Schoeb said. The best way to ensure that, he said, is to plan ahead.

Among suggestions: Build or retrofit your home with wider doors and hallways, install better lighting, hang upholstery to the wall if you're hard of hearing, elevate counters and appliances so they're more accessible without having to bend over.

Sometimes it's a matter of just making sure the home is as low-maintenance as possible, said Michael Thomas, author of “Aging In Place” and a speaker at the summit.

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