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August 2, 2017

Improving Accessibility in the House for Seniors to Stay Home Longer

Providing quality care for aging adults begins at home. Our homes represent so much more than just physical places filled with our possessions. Homes reflect their owners’ identities and give a sense of comfort.

According to AARP, an overwhelming 89% of older Americans said they wish to remain in their current home for as long as possible. While a person’s mobility may decline with age, the level of accessibility at his or her current residence should not. With the right approach, home modifications can be done quickly and at a relatively low cost.

Before making any changes within the house, evaluate access to your main entrance. Consider the importance of universal design for your home. Universal designs create a safer and more comfortable home for everyone, regardless of age, size, or ability.

Do you or a loved one require full wheelchair accessibility? If so, modifications will not only allow that person to reach the door, but also to pass through it while remaining comfortably seated. In order to increase accessibility for wheelchairs, consider adding a ramp leading up to the house from ground level. A vertical lift is a possibility if you lack the space for a ramp. The cost depends on the size and choice of materials, however there is financial aid available for those who qualify.

If you or a loved one cannot afford the cost of a necessary repair, consider these options:

  • Medicare, Medicaid, and your current health insurance plan
  • Contact your local Area Agency on Aging regarding the availability of funds to help you get started.
  • Look for grants available through your church or local community as well as the federal government.
  • Lastly, consider loan options from your bank based on your home equity.

Adapting your home to your abilities through the use of universal design principles does not stop at the front door of your house. Many modifications can be made to increase the level of accessibility for your home’s interior as well. In some cases, an occupational therapy assessment can help identify which aspects of your home pose the greatest challenges to your mobility.

Stairs tend to pose a challenging risk for aging adults. A stairway lift can provide full independence, especially for upstairs bedrooms. Guarantee accessibility to communication devices by using cordless phones or cellular devices to place nearby in case of an emergency. If necessary, install an intercom system in place of a standard doorbell.

Bathrooms and kitchens can also be complex areas to navigate for those with limited mobility. Lowering sinks and counter tops, installing appliances and light switches that are easy to reach, and adding assistive devices are all possible solutions that an assessment may suggest.

If limited mobility is contributing to your loved one’s inability to perform daily functions, financing the necessary renovations to diminish environmental threats is crucial for both happiness and survival. Ask your doctor or care provider about the possible benefits of receiving an occupational therapy assessment for your place of comfort today. Contact A Place at Home today to learn more.