Home remodeling to accomodate seniors

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The key for aging homeowners or someone in your care - is to prevent falls and injuries before they happen by proactively addressing safety issues in the home... You may not realize it but slick surfaces, rugs that aren't tacked down and poor lighting are all safety issues.

Falling is the leading cause of death from injury in adults over the age of 65, according to the national centers for disease control, with three of every five falls occurring in the home.

One-third of those accidents could be prevented by making the home safer.  There are contractors who specialize in addressing the needs of aging homeowners, as well as those with special needs.

"A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist is an expert in getting your home ready for a senior to live in. They understand exactly what needs to be done to make the home safe," says Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List.

When Frank Einterz had a stroke, his wife Cora hired a specialist to make their home safer and to accommodate Frank's new needs.

"I knew Frank's mental capacity wasn't as it should've been and I was afraid bringing him to a brand new location, exposing him to different things that he wasn't used to would not be the best for him. So I wanted to bring him back to familiar surroundings. So we decided to renovate the house," said Cora.

What is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist?
Millions of seniors are supporting a growing niche of contractors who specialize in addressing the needs of aging homeowners, as well as those with special needs. Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) are specially trained through the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to work with senior citizens and those needing specific modifications by proactively addressing safety and accessibility issues in the home.

Remodeling to age in place can include:

  • Installing grab bars;
  • Widening doorways to accommodate a walker/wheelchair;
  • Eliminating steps or curbs from entryways;
  • Replacing slippery floor materials;
  • Installing pull-out kitchen cabinets;
  • Replacement of traditional bathtubs with walk-in shower/tub;
  • Installation of vanities to allow wheelchair room; and
  • A dishwasher that minimizes the need to bend

"As we age we should always think about that we are going to be in our house long-term. Even if you're in your 40's or 50's and are considering doing some remodeling you might want to consider some elements that might make it more friendly for you as you age," says Hicks.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

  • Talk to a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS):  Its important homeowners who do need to make special modifications find a company with the training and know-how to identify the best changes to make. A CAPS contractor is trained to evaluate your specific needs and offer recommendations to make your home safe and functional.
  • Communicate your ideas:  Explain what modifications you want done to your home. Even rough ideas on paper are better than nothing at all.
  • What are the costs?  Aging-in-place project costs can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Cost can vary depending on the scope of the project and quality of products used. If you anticipate being in your home at least 5 or 10 years, the cost of modifying may be lower compared to the cost of moving into an assisted living facility – explore all your options before deciding whether to move or remodel.
  • Be proactive, not reactive:  Before the need arises is the best time to consider aging-in-place design. For any remodeling project, it is a good idea to look at what changes can be put in place now that will support aging-in-place, even if you are years away from needing it.

According to a nationwide Angie's List poll:

  • 18 percent of respondents had remodeled with aging in place in mind and;
  • 37 percent planned to do so.

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