Dr. Debi Lynes interviews Wanda Gozdz of Golden Age Living about safe home environments at any staging in life on the Aging in Place Podcast.
(duration: 32 minutes 44 seconds)
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When it comes to aging in place at any stage in life, it’s about safety, security, ease of use, comfort, and beauty.
Debi Lynes: 00:03 Hi and welcome to Aging in Place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone, at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at aging in place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces and health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing and that you can live in at any age, with any ability, at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes: 01:05 Hi and welcome to Aging in Place Podcast. We are so excited to have as our guest today, Wanda Gozdz. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m really excited to talk to you, Wanda. Today you had been a teacher and a mentor to me. And what I’d like to do is ask you a little bit about CAPS certification and what a CAPS designer, architect, occupational therapist, physical therapist does?
Wanda Gozdz: 01:34 Well, a person that’s a certified aging in place specialist really helps people with home modifications. They basically do an assessment to determine is the home adaptable to a person’s need as they change over time and then they provide design solutions and they also implement those design solutions to create an environment that provides ease of use, comfort, safety and beauty.
Debi Lynes: 02:03 Things that you and I talked about and that you taught me early on was that when we talk about aging in place is really creating a home for anyone at any age, in any stage of life. And that it doesn’t serve any of us well if we limit what we talk about in certified aging in place, if we just put the seniors as a group. It’s really about anyone. Can you talk a little bit about what CAPS is? You sort of gave us a broad spectrum. Specifically from the course, what are we going to learn?
Wanda Gozdz: 02:39 Well, we’re going to learn specifically that there are three segments of the market. There’s those people that are just aging and they’re perfectly healthy. I’m 70 years old. I’m aging. I have no immediate needs, but my environment is such that should something happen to me in the future, I can adapt, my environment adapts to my need. An example would be, for example, I have arthritis and I have arthritis in my right hand. I broke my hand. So now it’s a little harder for me to open my door knob. So what I did do is I adapted my environment by changing it to a lever handle, which allows me to use my forearm instead of my hand and it provides me still ease of use and I still can get into my home comfortably. So that is what I’m coming to the table to be able to assess that that’s what you need in your home.
Wanda Gozdz: 03:35 So therefore, regardless of who comes to your home, whether it’s your grandma or your children or your grandchildren, they can easily get into your home regardless of their condition, their age, or their ability.
Debi Lynes: 03:50 You know, when I remember sitting in a class and being very familiar with ADA and universal design, but not realizing how all encompassing it is for living any place at any time. Can you talk to me a little bit about universal design?
Wanda Gozdz: 04:07 So universal design is basically the fundamental principles that allow comfort, safety, ease of use, and accessibility regardless of what the person’s ability to do that. An example of that would be, I want something that is assessable to everyone. If I have a 36 inch door, it is assessable, meaning everyone can walk through that door. If I’m walking with a walker, I can get through the door. If I have a scooter, I can get through the door. If I have a stroller, I can get through the door. So it’s equitable and it provides access to everyone. So if I put the door in there, the door is equitable, it’s universal and it’s accessible. Regardless of my ability, my age or what I’m doing, it allows me through the doorway. So that’s a principle. Another principle would be, for example, ease of use or perceptible information. So something that does the task for you. If I have a touch faucet, then that does the task for me. It’s automatically is intuitive and it does the task for me. So whether I do the task or the task is done for me, it allows me to have my way regardless of what my ability is, it allows me to still perform the task of washing my hands.
Wanda Gozdz: 05:27 Perfect example is we all know that we go, Commercially, we go to the bathroom in a public bathroom. When you go to the bathroom, you sit on the toilet, it automatically flushes, you stand up, you go to the faucet, you stick your hands underneath it, the faucet automatically comes on and washes your hands. Then I go to the dryer and it blow dries my hands and it dries it. So that allows me the ability, regardless of who is using it, it’s universal because everyone can use it. But if I have a disability, I still can use that product. Meaning I still can get my hands washed because something is helping me in order to do that. And those kinds of products that are intuitive are going to be the things that are going to allow people to remain in their home.
Wanda Gozdz: 06:16 An example would be the lights automatically come on in my house. That’s a safety and security issue. That’s a universal design feature because that’s intuitive. The lights automatically come on. So regardless if I have macular degeneration or I can’t see or I can’t hear, the task is being basically performed for me. So if we use those principles in designing or creating our environment, that way it doesn’t matter who comes to see me. It doesn’t matter how old they are, it doesn’t matter what their limitations are. They still can be able to be functional and get the job done, which means our activities of daily living, which are going to the bathroom and eating ourselves, those are the activities of daily living. So we want that to be safe, secure, functional, and assessable.
Debi Lynes: 07:11 Do you think, since you’ve started the CAPS course and just known more and more about universal design and accessibility, things have changed? Is the whole industry broadening? And since now there are many of us who are aging, we want to age in place, we and we all have grandchildren. We want our grandkids to be able to come and visit. Have things changed over time?
Wanda Gozdz: 07:37 No. Well, what happens is now we’re designing. The clear distinction is our bodies are changing over time. Are we, is our environment changing? So we have to adapt to our environment so that as we change over time, we can still be able to function in it. So what’s happening? So right now the reason we’re modifying homes is because our bodies are changing. And so we want the environment to be able to do that. So if I’m doing a modification, I’m going to look at those things that allow me to do that. I need to get into the bathroom. So I need a wide enough doorway. The trend right now is for a wet room. We want as much space in the bathroom as possible for accessibility regardless of whether or walking in there, whether we’re on wheelchair, whether we’re in a walker or we’re bringing the dog in for a bath or we’re bringing our grandchild in. We want as much space as possible. So we’re creating a bathroom that has no walls in it. It just has the basic structure and the whole room is assessable to me. So I have a shower head that moves up and down. I have a faucet that I can easily touch and be able to stick my hands under. I have grab bars that give me stability and security while I’m navigating in that shower. So all of that is changing. What is changing and the products, they’re becoming a lot more friendly and a lot more aesthetically pleasing. So what is changing is the products are there and they have been there. We’re moving them from institutional life to what? To aesthetically pleasing because it’s now our home and we want our environment to be beautiful.
Debi Lynes: 09:25 One of the things that you pride yourself on. And one of the things that I think you’re internationally known for is being able to walk into a home and really help people assess ways that they can make their home more visitable, if that’s the right word for that. When you walk through a home, can you give us just an example of you walk in or you drive into the driveway? What kinds of things are you looking for?
Wanda Gozdz: 09:51 We start at the curb. I’m looking for access. I need to be able to get into my home. So it starts at the curb. Egress starts at the curb. I’m looking at what obstacles. How am I getting in? Am I traveling? Am I getting in here through the garage? Am I getting in there from the front stairs. And what are the travel paths? So my travel path is important. Do I have to step up, you know, from the garage into the house. So that is an obstacle. So what do I have to do there? If I am in the house and now I have to walk up a flight of stairs, that is an obstacle because now I have something in my travel path that’s stopping me, so I’m looking at that travel path. Do I have a 42 inch width that allows me a travel pack that allows me? Now since we have an open space plan and most people’s homes are open, we use furniture for that travel path. So do I have enough space between the couch and the counter so that I could pass forward safely?
Wanda Gozdz: 10:52 So that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking how am I walking through that environment easily with a minimal amount of effort.
Debi Lynes: 11:02 All right. I tell you what, you’re amazing and this is why she’s so fascinating to listen to. She’s such a wealth of information. Wanda, we’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to come right back. I just talk a little about more about aging in place. Stay with us.
Debi Lynes: 11:14 Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes. Design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what lines on design can do for you for more information, certified aging in place and facilitative and supportive design. Look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L Y N E S on design.com
Henrik de Gyor: 11:39 Hi, I’m Henrik, the producer of Aging in Place Podcast. If you’d like more information and transcripts of this podcast, visit aginginplacepodcast.com and now back to Debi Lynes with the next segment of Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.
Debi Lynes: 11:59 We are back here on aging in place. We are again here with Wanda Gozdz. Good to see you again. It’s amazing to talk with you. You are such a fountain of knowledge and you make it really user-friendly, which is great for many of us. You know, I’ve got a 91-year-old dad and a two-year-old granddaughter and I think when they can visit the house and everybody’s safe, I feel much more comfortable. You were taking us a walk through a home and really showing us some things that we can pay attention to. The takeaway or what I really heard from you was from the beginning. Okay. When you drive up to a house, that’s where you really start paying attention to aging in place and making your home universally designed.
Wanda Gozdz: 12:45 So what I’m going to say is the other issue is our population is going to be basically the female because we outlive men by 10 years. And so what women want is security and so that starts at the outside of the house to approach you. Somebody comes to my front door. I live in Florida. Code basically requires that our doors open out to deal with the hurricane. So when the door out and someone knocks on my door, I have to step outside and then look behind the door to see who’s there. Well, that’s a security issue and a safety issue. If I live by myself, I want to be able to be safe. I want to know who’s on that other side of the door before I answer the door, not after I opened the door.
Debi Lynes: 13:33 I never thought about that.
Wanda Gozdz: 13:33 Yeah. And that’s a big issue. One, and I do it every day because somebody knocks on my door, I have to step out the door and I have to look behind the door. So to me that’s a safety issue. So what I want to do is what is going to enhance security and safety. For me, a perfectly example Ring phone. Ring phone is the ability to be able to have communication directly through. So I apply it on. If I have an iPhone or a [smart] phone, it’s an application and it’s a product you put outside. You do not have to have an electrical connection. You put it on the outside and it’s a camera. So it has 180-degree view in front of me around my environment. So it looks down my corridor and up my corridor. Ring, R-I-N-G, Ring. I mount it to the outside of my house and there’s a camera inside. And that camera when somebody approaches, it automatically is on and being able to see from a range back here. And the security issue is that you can add a light on top.
Wanda Gozdz: 14:37 So lighting is a security issue. If I have a light above my doorway and someone approaches me. Immediately, I can see who’s coming to my home. Now with Ring phone, somebody knocks on my door. I automatically see them on my phone and I don’t have to open the door because I’m looking in my phone to communicate. “Hi, how are you, Debi?” Oh, you can say, “Oh, I’m, hi Wanda. How are you?” “Oh, hi Debi. Thank you for coming over. Let me open the door for you.” If I don’t know who’s at the door. “I can say, may I help you?”
Debi Lynes: 15:11 Got it.
Wanda Gozdz: 15:11 So I don’t have to open the door in order to see who’s at my door. So that’s a security and safety issue and for under 100 bucks, maybe it costs 100 bucks to get the combination of the phone and the light. Immediately. Safety and security is addressed. And I feel much more comfortable, whether it’s nighttime or daytime, when somebody is at my door. One feature is now if you’re dad… You’re away. I go to my son’s house, he says, “mom, let me know when you come to my house. I’ll open the door” or you can give this feature to someone else and then when, so your dad, if he lived in another house, he can give you access so whoever comes to the door you can see who’s coming to Dad’s door.
Debi Lynes: 15:54 What’s interesting is I was thinking about my daughter who has a two-year-old and is pregnant with another one and I think, I mean we’re saying security, but it’s just convenience too. It would be a wonderful feature for her to be able to know again, if she needed to really come to the door or not.
Wanda Gozdz: 16:10 That’s right. And if she’s in another room feeding the baby, she can keep the phone there and she doesn’t have to get up to go see the door. Somebody’s right there. She’s has the access to it, so convenience, ease of use, comfort and safety are the features. Security and safety is what the Ring phone basically provides. And I recommend that to everyone, especially to women.
Debi Lynes: 16:31 Well, it’s so much fun to talk about product because I think at the end of every one of our podcasts, what we try to do is we do takeaways, practical things that people can actually do when they finish and this is exactly what we’re looking for. I’m surprised when you consider or when you share lighting as an area of safety and security until you mentioned the light at the front door. Are there other things that are safety and security we really wouldn’t think about?
Wanda Gozdz: 16:57 The number one feature for safety is lighting. I say that what we have to do is change our lighting. Lighting provides safety and security. Right now, we grew up on Thomas Edison created the yellow light bulb. It is yellow light. As we age, our eyes turn yellow. So what we need is we need blue light. LED light is the light that we need that provides security and safety. If we increase lighting, automatically we increase security and safety. So where do you need that additional light?
Debi Lynes: 17:30 Right, exactly.
Wanda Gozdz: 17:30 In transition areas and places, so we need direct light for thing. We need task light. So I’m working at the counter. I want that light there and then I need lighting that’s going to provide me the ability to be able to see what I’m doing in that particular task.
Debi Lynes: 17:48 Let me ask you another question about lighting. Oftentimes turning on lamps, turning off lamps. I know for my dad, it’s oftentimes a hassle to move around and turn off all of these individual things. Are there products out there to make that easier also? Yes.
Wanda Gozdz: 18:07 You can have an app from your phone. You got Alexa, you talk to Alexa. Say “Alexa, turn on the lights.” “Alexa, shut off the lights.” “Alexa, tell me what time it is.” So you can use that as a feature or component that helps you with those features.
Debi Lynes: 18:22 So from a certified aging in place point of view, tell me who would actually do that for you? Do you look for people who are certified in that?
Wanda Gozdz: 18:34 You’re gonna look for an interior designer. You’re going to look for a contractor that’s got CAPS certified and you can check National Home Builders Association to their website and to put in CAPS and then you can find the people in your local area that are certified. You need to understand what you really need to have in your home.
Debi Lynes: 18:54 What about things like bars, Counters? How do I determine the height of counters? And how do I, again, be proactive when I’m either renovating my house or building a new house to prepare for aging in place?
Wanda Gozdz: 19:14 Well, you’re going to have to have a professional. Then, you would want an interior designer that understands what the differences and/or you want a contractor that’s CAPS certified because they understand how to be able to determine what kind of counter you need, what’s your reach, how far you can be reach, how far you can lift, so they’re trained in basically doing that.
Debi Lynes: 19:34 You know, when cost is no object, I think, “Oh, I’d like to put an elevator in” or I’d like to do things like that. Are there cost-effective ways to begin to retrofit, if you will, my home or when I’m building, are there ways to just develop a master plan and I can do it over time?
Wanda Gozdz: 19:54 Yeah. And that would be again, meeting with interior designer or CAPS certified professional because they are going to plan that space for you and how to best economize to get all of that. You know, for an elevator, you require certain things, for a lift you require certain things and they’re the experts that know all of the things. So I would probably say they need to do an assessment. So when they do an assessment, that’s where they evaluate what you can do in that space.
Debi Lynes: 20:20 And so that’s what you were basically telling us when we went into the front and then we went in and furniture was something that we talked about travel. What about going into the kitchen? Talk a little bit about the kitchen.
Wanda Gozdz: 20:30 Well, the kitchen is the same way. Activity of daily living. What are you doing in the kitchen? You have to feed yourself, you have to wash the dishes, you have the cook and you have to clean up after yourself. So, you’re looking at the activity that the person is doing and how are they basically doing it and everybody’s different.
Debi Lynes: 20:46 Well, from an accessibility point of view, what are some tips that you could give us about what we need to pay attention to within the kitchen area.
Wanda Gozdz: 20:56 Well when the kitchen, again access cooking, the stovetop, you need to make sure that the stovetop is safe and secure. So the big thing is induction stovetops are really good, worth for aging in place because it runs on magnetic energy so if something is removed, if you cooking in the pot and the water boils out, the stovetop automatically shuts itself off. Take the top pot off and you touch the stovetop. The stovetop is immediately cold. So for aging in place, that’s a perfect stovetop because I already have to lift my stovetop on twice while I was cooking and I’m thinking I could burn down the building.
Debi Lynes: 21:36 I did the same thing. I popped popcorn and walked out of the room. Oops. Yes, very right. Not good.
Wanda Gozdz: 21:43 So you can basically do that. Yes.
Debi Lynes: 21:46 What about if I do have my dad or someone in a wheelchair if a cousin just recently broke her leg and we were trying to figure out how to get her in and sit at, you know, come into the kitchen and sit at the counter…
Wanda Gozdz: 22:00 You’d want a high-level counter. So what she needs is access. So if you had a multilevel counter of two different heights, she can easily come with her chair and sit at the counter. So the design, right now, everybody wants an Island. Everybody wants an Island. That’s the trend. Well, an island you want to put multilevel in it because regardless of whether your granddaughter’s going to come and stand at it or somebody’s going to come in a chair and sit at it in a wheelchair, they’re going to have access to what? To be able to eat at the counter. So that multilevel counter gives you the ability to do that.
Debi Lynes: 22:38 It makes so much sense. What is the difference between a lift and an elevator and if I’m not ready for an elevator or it’s cost-prohibitive right now, is there anything in preplanning that I can do to be able to put an elevator in it at some point?
Wanda Gozdz: 22:52 Well, the issue is that we have a lot of types of elevators. Elevator is known as a pneumatic elevator. It’s a vacuum elevator. So you know like you go to the bank and you put your money in, it goes up the tube that’s called vacuum, that’s called the pneumatic vacuum. So that doesn’t require anything other than plug and play. But you have to have someplace to put it. That would be great in front of a stairwell. If you had a winding stairwell or a loft elevator because it could go from a level to the other. The issue is it only requires electrical outlet. It requires a battery backup and cost you $16,000 $17,000, that’s the fastest one that you can get overnight to your house. If you had an issue. It has some requirements. Some of them are not wheelchair accessible. They’re creating them so they’re wheelchair accessible, but you can get one to another. The elevator is a little bit more complicated because that requires planning and that requires where is the space that you have in order to basically do that.
Debi Lynes: 24:01 So let’s say I’m building a new house and I want to plan for an elevator because I’m going to have little kids and I’m also going to have aging parents. Is there anything I can do to plan for it?
Wanda Gozdz: 24:12 If you’re planning in a new house, you would want to put double stack closets next to the stairwell. Those double-stacked closets are for future shafts that you’re going to put the elevator in. Then you have to really know what kind of elevator you’re going to put in. Do you need an elevator pit? You need to have your electrical. You have to have your battery backup. You have to have your telephone. You have to have your walls reinforced. So there’s certain things that the designer or the builder can help you in that planning. When you can decide what kind of money you want to spend on that elevator and how much is it going to cost you.
Debi Lynes: 24:44 What’s a lift?
Wanda Gozdz: 24:48 A lift is basically the same thing, but it’s used for short distances. It’s shorter. It only takes one person at a time, and it has a limitation of 500 pounds. So it requires a flat surface. So you’ll see lifts basically in older buildings where they had garages and they had transitions. It was only used for one person, but it will fit. It’s used instead of a ramp, a lift can be used in a garage because you can put it where the stoop is and then the person can transfer, but it has limitations. It only holds up the 500 pounds including the equipment and the person. It requires that you have somebody who’s holding a button to move from place to place. But so it’s a mini-elevator, mini-elevator that’s short, but it serves a purpose and it replaces a ramp very, very economically.
Debi Lynes: 25:40 Talk to me a few. I was just going to say talk to me a little bit about ramps if you will. Can anyone build a ramp anywhere at any time? Are there specs or are there things we really have to pay attention to? You talk to me about that.
Wanda Gozdz: 25:55 Well, a ramp has got an issue because the ramp has to comply with local code… Building code. A ramp has to be able to be assessable. It has to be at least 36 inches high. You have to have a travel path and you have to have a surface and you have to show transition, so a lot of people make mistakes on ramps. I would say that you would want to talk to a professional to make sure that you’re compliant when doing a ramp. You can also buy a portable ramp. 101 Mobility is a big manufacturer. They sell portable products. You could buy a portable ramp to use it for a short term basis. That would probably be sometimes more economical than building a ramp. And ramps can also be built. Like I see a ramp down my street that’s on the side of a garage and it goes from the street to the garage so ramp can be very simple. If it’s at the ratio of one to 20, it means it’s pretty flat and pretty slowly sloped, so you don’t have to have rails on the side of it. So those are accessible. So that ramp doesn’t require that it has railing on because it’s sloped gradually. So you’re not going to fall off of anything.
Debi Lynes: 27:08 Wow. There’s just so much know our ramps pretty much standard in most commercial buildings now. Are they required?
Wanda Gozdz: 27:15 Yes. Under American Disabilities Act, any commercial building requires to have a ramp.
Debi Lynes: 27:21 You know, we’re talking about wheelchairs and we’re talking about children and we’re talking about those kinds of disabilities. I’m just now thinking…blind, lack of vision, hearing, some of those senses are there. Is there anything specifically or interesting about aging in place when your site goes? Oh yeah. Well I see that with myself as I get older.
Wanda Gozdz: 27:49 Then we use other tacticals. So if we can’t see, we need to hear. If we can’t hear, we need to see. So we have to use all the other senses. So we bring all the other senses to the table when we’re designing.
Debi Lynes: 28:03 Give me examples of that, of what that would look like.
Wanda Gozdz: 28:07 So if I can’t hear, I need to see. So I would need color contrast, which would help me with what? With the showing where the differential. At the end of the hallway it’s going to say, Oh, something’s happening. If I can’t see, I need audio, so something to tell me. So that could be a command or it could be a tone or it could be a voice coming from an Intercom is the thing that people use. If they can’t hear, they can see. So you can have a camera that’s there and they can visually see who’s on the other side of the door or who’s going through the door. So that would be a way to accommodate them.
Debi Lynes: 28:48 What about color? Do you find that as we get older we need softer color? brighter color?
Wanda Gozdz: 28:54 Color is the biggest thing that we need. Color contrast. As we lose, we lose the ability for depth perception and we need color contrast. So the darker colors are harder for the eye to see. Lighter colors are better, but we need contrast between a surface on the floor or the surface and product. So surface that we need immediately.
Debi Lynes: 29:15 We’ve only got about a minute or so. And you, you pretty much have a mantra about what certified aging in place certification really looks like.
Wanda Gozdz: 29:26 It’s safety, security, ease of use and comfort.
Debi Lynes: 29:32 Safety, security, ease of use and comfort.
Wanda Gozdz: 29:37 And then I add beauty because everyone wants their environment that’s beautiful. That’s the design.
Debi Lynes: 29:42 Safety, security, ease of use and comfort. That makes so much sense. Again, I keep saying it but I can’t say it enough. You’re a wealth of knowledge and I think what we did today on this podcast is really just scratch the surface of what and how I certified aging in place specialist can really enhance your living space and again it’s all about health and wellness. So I am very, very grateful to you and I want to thank all of our listeners too and Wanda, we will definitely have you back here on aging in place.
Wanda Gozdz: 30:22 And if anybody’s interested in classes they can just go to my website, goldenageliving.com and go under course schedule and they can find out where the courses are listed and available.
Debi Lynes: 30:35 You are amazing. Again, thank you so much for joining us.
Debi Lynes: 30:38 I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative and when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand my response. Who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint that is a practical application.
Tracy Snelling: 31:07 Thanks Debi. Time for 60 second make-over. Thanks to online shopping, you now can do a little makeover for your home with just a couple of clicks. Have that doorway that has a little step up to cross with someone using a walker. Those door jams can be a fall waiting to happen. What to do? A popular online shopping website sells rubber thresholds in many sizes. A rubber threshold will prevent walkers or wheelchairs for hitting that bump in the road. Prices usually start around $30 it’s an easy fix for a big problem. Who knew?
Debi Lynes: 31:42 Wow, Wanda Gozdz, a certified aging in place specialist. She gave us so many takeaways. The entire podcast is a takeaway to tell you the truth because there’s so many practical tips, but here’s the bottom line and the takeaway I hope you all get, and that is when it comes to aging in place at any stage in life, it’s about safety. It’s about security, it’s about ease and it’s about comfort. Thank you all for joining us here on aging in place.
Henrik de Gyor: 32:16 Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to email@example.com. We would love to hear from you. If you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.