But this is home and statistics show that 75 percent or more of older Americans want to age in place instead of entering a care facility. So what can the elderly do to remain independent and safe in their homes that no longer meet their physical requirements?
Plenty can be done, says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and elder care professionals. June is Home Safety Month, and with it right around the corner, now is a good time to consider home modification as a beneficial solution to reduce the potential for injuries and make everyday tasks easier for older individuals. Modifying a home for improved convenience and safety can range from removing potential fall hazards to extensive renovations.
Whether to repair or upgrade are key considerations when planning home modifications, and the seniors themselves need to be involved as much as possible in the decision making. Depending on the desired improvements, work may be a do-it-yourself project or require the professional help of a contractor. If a senior has specific health requirements for the home, it may be advisable to consult with an occupational therapist or other healthcare professional.
“Often, our Ann Arbor in-home care providers will find a safety or accessibility problem in a client’s home such as a loose railing or faucet out of reach, and we’ll talk with the client and family about these concerns,” explains Charles Williams, President and General Manager of Right at Home of Ann Arbor. “If home modifications are needed, we can help the senior adjust smoothly to the changes and upgrades in their surroundings. We also offer a free Home Safety Checklist."
Williams recommends that before moving ahead with home modification, it is best for the senior along with relatives or friends to go through each room noting any areas needing improvement. A factsheet (http://www.eldercare.gov/
__ Flooring free of cracks, splits and up-turned edges
__ Carpets secure with no loose or torn patches
__ Bright lighting with handy, easy-control switches
__ Properly grounded electrical outlets within easy reach
__ Space to add video home monitoring
__ Easy-to-use faucets, cabinet doorknobs and stove controls
__ Grab bars where needed for support
__ Comfortable counter height and depth
__ Easy access into and out of the bathtub or shower
__ Nonslip surfaces in the bathtub or shower
__ Grab bars near the toilet and bathtub or shower
__ Simple control of sink/shower/
__ Shower/bathtub bench or seat
__ Door openings wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair
__ Sturdy, easy-to-turn door locks
__ Windows well-sealed and easy to open and close
Stairs and Inclines
__ Stairs in good condition
__ Steps wide enough for whole foot
__ No loose carpeting or edges
__ Secure handrails on both sides of stairway at proper height
__ Ramps to replace stairs or steps inside and outside
In reviewing all the areas of a senior’s home that could benefit from renovations, make a list of potential problems and possible solutions. Pay special attention to stairs and uneven and slippery walkways. To fund significant home repairs and modifications, some assistance might be available through Title III of the Older Americans Act via a local Area Agency on Aging. Community energy and social services departments also may provide monies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or the Weatherization Assistance Program. If certain home modifications are ordered by a doctor, Medicare or Medicaid may help with costs. In addition, some towns and cities offer community development grant funds, or homeowners may qualify for a home equity mortgage to pay for home improvements.
For more practical resources on home modifications for older people and aging in place, contact the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications (NRCSHHM) at homemods.org or 213-740-1364.
About Right at Home
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home care and companionship and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Local Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, bonded and insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with franchise offices located in 42 states nationwide and throughout the world. For more information on Right at Home, read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/
About Right at Home of Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor Michigan office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., providing in-home care to the communities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Belleville, Plymouth, Chelsea, Dearborn, Canton, Dexter, and beyond. For more information, contact Right at Home of Ann Arbor at http://www.rightathome.net/