A 2018 AARP survey of adults shows that 3 out of 4 adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. As we age in place, our homes age as well. Upgrades and maintenance can make a difference in being able to age in place.
Expensive repairs and replacement costs can influence your parent’s decision to stay at home. Before they decide, get their home inspected for big-ticket items like the foundation, roof, air conditioning and water heater.
If your loved one currently live in an older home, contact their electrician and plumber. Many offer a free inspection. Based on their findings, it’s possible to plan for updates over time.
Things to look for:
- Old and outdated wiring
- Outlets that have gone bad; most GFCI outlets will last for 15-25 years but can go bad in as little as five years
- Corrosion in the return valves to shut off water to the house
- Age of the bathroom stack which traps to and prevents sewer gases from leaking into the house
- Rusty pipes and on/off valves under kitchen and bathroom sinks
Good Repair and Regular Maintenance
Keeping an older home in good repair can be a daunting task. It is well worth the money to inspect and maintain the following yearly:
- Rain gutters and downspouts
- Air conditioning, heating and ventilation units
- Termite infestation
- Dryer vents
- Fire extinguisher
- Smoke detector
- Carbon monoxide detector
Modifications to bathrooms and the kitchen are key to aging in place. Do it sooner rather than later.
Putting in a walk-in tub with a built-in seat, grab bars, ADA toilet and handheld shower head may seem like an unnecessary expense, but a fall or health problems due to washing up in a sink are even more costly. The bathroom is the most dangerous place for adults age 65 and older. 80 percent of all bathroom accidents are due to falls and often result in hip fractures. This is the leading cause for seniors being forced to move out of their home.
Modification to your parent’s kitchen can be as simple as arranging the most frequently used and heaviest items for easy access. Adding pull out shelves to minimize reaching far back into a cabinet makes for a safer kitchen as well.
One of the most overlooked modifications in the home is lighting. Vision changes as we age, increasing the risk of falls. Adding task lighting, motion sensor lights and night lights are easy ways to ensure a lit walking path. If your senior has mobility issues, think about an assistive device like Alexa or Google Home. With a smart plug they can turn lighting off and on with a simple voice command.
If you are not sure which modifications are a must, or you want to prioritize them, consider hiring an occupational therapist (OT). For a fee they will do a home inspection and create a plan that is best suited to your finances and needs. Your Springpoint at Home can also assist in evaluating your home for aging in place. Your Springpoint at Home Care Manager can coordinate home evaluations, and work with aging-in-place contractors who know how to truly make the most cost effective and safe changes to the home. Just be sure to work with an experienced professional for this evaluation. The finished bathroom and grab bars may look beautiful, but if they are not set properly for your loved one’s height or are placed on the incorrect side for a stroke victim, it is not money well spent.
If remodeling is out of the budget, there are a host of disability aids like a transfer chair for the tub. Your Care Manager can identify and help you find the most appropriate aids.
One of the most important home maintenance tools takes time but no money. It is a home planner book. In a binder, document where and when each major unit or appliance for their home was purchased. Keep the original receipts and owner’s manuals in this binder. Include any warranties purchased and contact information for repairmen. Having this information in one place will help and, in a pinch, your Springpoint at Home Care Manager can make repair calls for your senior.
The added benefit? Working with your loved ones to fill in this book is a great and non-threatening way to be in the know on the safety of your parents’ home.