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Monday, July 27, 2015

Home is an Odyssey For The Aging Population

Workers' Compensation over the decades has had a very narrow and limited view of "home improvement" benefits for an aging and disabled workforce. That view is focussed on the immediate and maybe a 5 year plan going into the future. With increasing life expectancy of the entire population the workers' compensation system will need to adapt to what is considered "home" and adapt to new factors in an ever changing world.

Home modifications are an important and critical component of the workers' compensation Act.

The standard of proof, was enunciated almost 3 decades by the NJ Supreme Court :
“Where the surroundings of the petitioner must be modified in order to accommodate his physical handicap, the court has required that the employer be responsible for making the adaptations. Not only is the physical well-being of the injured worker taken into consideration, but his mental state is considered as well. In the Squeo case, the employer was required to pay for the construction of an accessible apartment as an addition to the premises of the injured worker’s parents’ home.”  Squeo v. Comfort Control Corp., 194 N.J.Super. 366, 476 A.2d 1265 (App.Div.1984), aff’d 99 N.J. 588, 494 A.2d 313 (1985), N.J. Prac., Workers’ Compensation Law § 15.3 (3d ed.)

What is a "home" for the aging and the social implications has immediate and profound ramifications upon the injured worker, the workers' family and caregivers and society.

"AMONG THE OLDEST OLD, gerontologists talk about the risks of social isolation — life without daily contact, without human touch, without eyes to see if they fall."

Home, for some, is a score sheet of all the things they have given up with age.

For others it is something they cling to. Only 12 percent of New Yorkers 85 and up live in group accommodations like nursing homes, according to census data analyzed by Susan Weber-Stoger of Queens College.

Most live in their own homes or with relatives, cobbling together networks of support: 53 percent say they have trouble living independently; 58 percent say they have trouble walking; 31 percent say they have cognitive difficulties.

Click here the read the complete article: "What home means to New York's Oldest Old" NY Times 7/26/15