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29 September 2017
Each year on the first Monday of October, Word Habitat Day is celebrated. Established over 30 years ago by the United Nations, World Habitat Day is an annual reminder of the importance of ensuring everyone has adequate shelter around the world.
In fact, housing accounts for nearly three-quarters of land use in most cities. However, one billion people living in cities around the world lack secure land rights. As a result, Habitat for Humanity has dedicated themselves to improving global policies and systems to ensure land access for shelter.
In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly established World Habitat Day as a way to reflect on the state of our cities and towns as well as the basic right to shelter. First celebrated in 1986 in the host city of Nairobi, the inaugural theme was “Shelter is My Right”. In 1989, the UN created the Scroll of Honor award as a means to acknowledge those initiatives that contribute toward shelter provision, including fighting homelessness and urban reconstruction.
What can you do?
You don’t have to be a foreign aid crusader to do your part. There are neighbors in your own town or city who are living in inadequate housing, if they have housing at all. Homelessness affects all communities. On a single night, 565,000 individuals are experiencing homelessness, which means they are either sleeping outside or in a shelter. Moreover, about 8% of the unsheltered population were veterans.
There are a number of volunteer organizations who help these individuals on a local level. Whether by contributing your time, money or donations, your help will certainly not go unnoticed.
Homelessness amongst seniors, while rarer, usually occurs due to preventative medical conditions. Often, older homeless individuals suffer impairments resulting from depression or dementia, which may have often is linked to isolation. In a 2004 survey, half of the recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) over the age of 50 had been living alone before losing their home. If you know of someone living alone, why not stop by for a visit or send them a letter to remind them they have friends in the community.
To those who do have a roof over their head, often it becomes inadequate as they age as it no longer provides a safe haven for them. Bathroom safety, daunting stairs often force seniors to live on the first floor of their home or downsize, leaving their memories and house behind.
Of course a room filled with sharp knives and boiling water is one for danger. But, more often, it’s tripping over open cabinets or falling off of step stools to reach items off of the top shelf that pose higher risk. Easy fixes include moving items to lower shelves and replacing floor-height cabinets with drawers to reduce the need to bend. If you have a neighbor living alone, reach out and see if you can help them reorganize their kitchen for a safer dining experience.
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in your home, no matter the age. But as you may expect, the older you are, the more hazardous this room becomes. Thankfully, there are many preventative measures one can take such as ensuring the water temperature is set to 120 degrees or lower, installing grab bars and other equipment for safer transfers, as well as ensuring it’s well-lit for middle of the night bathroom visits. If you know of someone who is living alone, stop by and make sure their bathroom is well-equipped with all of the safety precautions to prevent serious injury or death in the future.
Too often, a bathroom is located on the second floor of one’s home. Instead of taking their chances on their staircase each day, the person is either limited to using a commode on their first floor or they downsize to avoid the risk of the stairs. However, thanks to a stairlift, access to all levels of one’s home is possible and the risks of falling are reduced.
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