November 18, 2017

Born Again

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Have you raised a child?

I often wonder what I learned in school that was so great: geometry, endless history, exotic authors, extreme science? After years of school there was so much practical stuff that I didn’t know: how to cook, nutrition, conflict resolution, and child rearing. Simply bizarre, even absurd, that it was assumed that I would instinctually know what to do when shepherding a little being along the path to adulthood. Well, the good thing about school is that I did learn where to find information – the library!

If you raised a child and went to the library to find out how, you would encounter a tsunami of information. The same is true in a bookstore – aisles of books. On the internet, fogedaboutit! When bringing a newborn home from the hospital, there are tons (literally) of information.

There is another time when we bring a being either into our home or into our neighborhood; it’s when we have a parent who would benefit from the extra care we can provide when they are close by. What prepares us for this? Nothing. So, back to the library (bookstore or internet). Woops! Slight problem – no information! No tons of books on the topic – not even one pound!

I’m all about universal design and advocating its wide adoption. I have the books – most of them. They occupy a whopping 15 inches on my bookshelf! That’s it, and, many are out of print. I’ve bookmarked the websites on this topic, same deal – just a handful. You are gonna stumble when trying to get useful information – chances are you don’t know where to start (hint: Universal Design Resource and AARP).

OK, we do have more babies than we have parents moving back close to home. But, this is changing. Demographic and economic factors are rapidly putting us sandwichers into barely getting one being out of the house when another comes in. And so it is. But, this absence of info makes it really hard. I have to make every mistake the person did before me and those that follow will have to repeat my mistakes. Meanwhile there is all the suffering that comes as a result of an ill prepared transition.

So, that’s the way it is for now. Change will come and authors will step up to meet this rising demand for good advice. There will be a Dr. Spock for adults caring for their elders. For now, hang in there. Write a blog, share your experience, join a support group. I’m busy finishing a book on universal design and in it is a section that addresses this concern. You’ll get some help evaluating a house or apartment, a neighborhood and how to transition a full and complete life including social connections and medical ones. If you have thoughts to share, please contact me or post a comment.

Konrad Kaletsch
Universal Design Resource
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