Friday, 17 October 2008 13:56
There are more than 22 million senior homeowners (people age 65 and older) in the nation, and according to an AARP study, 85 percent of them want to remain in their homes and communities for the balance of their lives. However, while their homes may suit their current needs, will they still be accessible and senior-friendly in the future as individuals' needs change?
Too often, older homeowners consider remodeling for accessibility only after their homes become too difficult to manage. With a little foresight and consideration today, homeowners can make simple, cost-efficient renovations and modifications that will ensure that their homes will meet their needs tomorrow. Most of these changes can be incorporated into the existing layout of the home without revealing their ultimate purpose.
Simple renovations, like installing grab bars in the tub and shower, and handrails on both sides of the stairs, inside and outside, can make your house safer and decrease your chances of falling. Likewise, replacing scatter or throw rugs with non-slip flooring and adding bright lights over stairs, steps and on landings can brighten the look of your house and increase safety. Replace door knobs with lever-style door handles that are easy for people of any age to open. A bench or shelf near an entry provides a convenient resting place for packages or grocery bags when you are unlocking the door.
Other projects that might require more planning include relocating a bedroom and bath on the first floor and installing a low- or no-threshold entrance to the home. An open, single-level floor plan on the main floor, especially in the kitchen and dining area, increases accessibility for people of all ages.
Area agencies on aging have home repair and modification programs that can help older Ohioans stay in their own homes, safely and economically. For example, repairing or installing new windows and heating and air conditioning equipment can greatly reduce energy bills. Contact your area agency at 1-866-243-5678 to find out more.
Some older Ohioans on a fixed income may need to look at the cost of maintaining a home that is bigger than they really need. With the increasing cost of taxes, insurance and utilities, perhaps it is time to consider moving to a smaller place. There are many housing options available to us as we age.
Some older adults sell their homes and move to a "seniors only" apartment complex. They no longer have to do home maintenance and grounds-keeper chores while freeing up equity that can supplement their incomes. Living in a complex with a group of seniors also allows them a greater sense of security in numbers than living alone in a private home.
Along the same lines, retirement communities are oriented toward those who prefer a more active lifestyle. They might offer golf, tennis, swimming pool and spa, exercise rooms and a variety of clubs and interest groups. A minimum age requirement is usually set when the community is first established, so residents interact and exercise with people their own age.
Continuing care retirement communities offer seniors an independent lifestyle and a private home, regardless of future medical needs. They provide the availability of multiple levels of care, without the uncertainty of wondering where you will live if your health status and other needs change. They may require buy-in, or an up-front annuity purchase followed by monthly payments for amenities and needed medical care.
Assisted living facilities offer non-medical help for seniors less able to function independently in all aspects of their daily lives. Residents, who live in separate, private living units, receive services such as laundry, cleaning and meals.
Contact your area agency on aging at 1-866-243-5678 to learn about the various senior housing options available in and around your community.