Co-owner of Two Chicks and a Hammer Shares Her Thoughts on Home Accessibility

POSTED: October 17, 2018

Almost everyone has a CICOA story, it seems.

“I have a personal relationship with CICOA,” confessed Karen E. Laine, who along with her daughter Mina Starsiak, co-hosts HGTV’s Good Bones, a home renovation show based in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis. Laine served as emcee at CICOA’s 9th annual Safe at Home event on Sept. 29, and she shared her story with an enthusiastic crowd of 150+ volunteers.

“My sister-in-law taught piano in Irvington for twenty years, so if you lived in the area and are somewhere between 20 and 40, you probably took lessons from her,” Laine said. “She also was instrumental in launching the farmer’s market in Irvington. If you go to the market, you’ll see a line of people waiting to hug her. She has Huntington’s disease, which is a degenerative neurological disease, and as a result she needs a lot of support services. But because of CICOA, she has been able to stay in her home for much longer than she would have otherwise. So thank you!”

As co-owner of Two Chicks and a Hammer, a home rehab business, Laine knows the importance of home accessibility modifications to empowering older adults to remain independent.

“If you have a grab bar in the shower, and that allows you to bathe without falling, then you can stay at home,” she said. “In a lot of older homes, the laundry is in the cellar. If the stairs don’t have railings and you are at all unsteady, you’re likely going to fall. Stairs are great exercise, so I’m not saying avoid them, but railings can help you use them safely. At some point, you may need a ramp or zero thresholds, so you can move through your space with wheeled assistance.  All of that is critical to staying safe at home.”

“There’s also a really important concept called muscle memory,” Laine continued. “So in my home, I can flick on a light in the dark without thinking, because my muscles remember where the switch is. If I’m 80 and you move me somewhere else, I don’t know where anything is, and it will be very disorienting to me. If I can stay in my home, everything will be easier. It is more peaceful. I know my neighbors. Staying at home is important to everyone.”

Laine is planning to participate in Safe at Home again, and next year wants to swing a hammer.

“How can you not be passionate about the community where you live? This is where I work. This is where I play; where I eat.  This is where I socialize, and where I pray. This community gives me everything I need,” she said.

“And Hoosiers are especially amazing,” she continued. “If you are stopped at a red light because you are confused about where to go, no one’s going to honk. They are going to get out of their car, come to your window, and say, ‘Can I help?’” We have an entire community full of people like that, that just want to help people. I love Indianapolis. I love my neighbors. How can I not feel compelled to give back?”

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