David F. is a 67-year old Little City resident with developmental disabilities who is quickly aging out of his current home. David has lived at Little City’s Cherry Home for seven years. And while David – who is now legally blind – has needs that have changed, the home has remained virtually the same.
Within the next four years, 65 percent of Little City’s adult residential population will be over 50 years old. And as the residents age, their needs and level of care increases. Whether it is walkers, handrails or modifications in bathrooms, Little City currently does not have the proper equipment or space to meet the rapidly growing needs of the residents in our community homes.
With no handrails or any tools to assist the visually impaired, David must feel his way around his own home – reaching out for walls or furniture to not only prevent himself from falling but to also know if he is walking into his own room, a bathroom or a housemate’s room. Even the light switches, which are still beneficial to David, are too small for him to find.
“This home at least has wide hallways, which can be helpful, but most homes don’t even have that let alone handrails and other ADA features that we need,” said Sarah Walker, lead program manager for adults.
Along with the growing safety concerns facing aging adults in these outdated homes, the comfort and independence the residents worked so hard to build over the years is fading. While it took years for some to master basic skills such as getting dressed, using the restroom and showering independently, many of the aging adults in Little City community homes now need assistance with all those tasks as none of the homes are properly equipped for them.
At David’s home, his bathroom does not have a walk-in shower he can access or the proper seating and handrails needed for safety. Home manager Tanya Syperski said while some residents had once been able to use the bathrooms independently, they all need assistance now because the toilets are just standard design and have not been upgraded to meet their growing needs.
Even the deep-seated leather couches and chairs in the living room are too difficult for most to use without needing help standing up.
“All of our residents want independence and privacy,” Tanya said. “Unfortunately many of them have lost that because the homes are no longer setup for what they need.”
There is a solution. Little City has plans in place for every single home that will result in specific modifications for each unit’s particular needs and allow for residents to live together based on age and level of need in order to deliver the best living environment and social life.
With your gift, Little City can start to make these needed renovations and build the homes our aging adults deserve. A donation is not simply a gift to build a safe and comfortable home for our residents, it is the gift of independence and dignity for the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.