Receiving care at home is simply not an option for many people unless changes are made to their surroundings. Some changes are obvious and easy; more complex alterations may require professional construction help.
Making a Home Safe
A number of free and easy changes can help eliminate potential safety hazards, from removing scatter rugs to moving the furniture to low-traffic areas of the room. And many other alterations cost very little and likely require no outside help — such as increasing lighting levels, applying nonskid adhesive strips in bathtubs, installing anti-scald devices on faucets, and moving shelving to eye level.
For a comprehensive checklist on how help make a home safer for seniors and home care patients, see the checklist by the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing & Home Modification, “Safety for Older Consumers.”
Modifying and Remodeling
Many homes will need modifications, from slight to substantial, to become suitable spots for aging or ailing residents. For example, a bedroom may need to be relocated to a main level of a house for those who have difficulty climbing stairs. Hallways may need to be widened to accommodate a wheelchair. Or handrails may need to be installed on a porch or stairway to provide a steady grasp when climbing.
Prompted by the growing number of people who wish to remain and receive care at home, an industry of specialists — general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants — can help assess structural changes that need to be made and to accomplish that remodeling.
The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program was among the first to address the growing number of consumers requiring home modifications. CAPS providers are trained in remodeling projects and solutions to common barriers for older or frail residents. For more information and to find a CAPS in your area, visit the “Aging in Place Remodeling” page of the National Association of Home Builders website.
Getting Financial Help
A number of programs offer reduced rates, loans, or free services for home modifications.
For more information, see these consumer advice booklets from the National Aging in Place Council:
- Use Your Home to Stay at Home: A Guide for Homeowners Who Need Help Now
- Use Your Home to Stay at Home: A Planning Guide for Older Consumers
To find resources for seniors who need to repair or modify their homes or make them safer and more accessible, contact the local Area Agency on Aging.