Aging In Place: Home Safety
Almost 90 percent of Americans over age 50 would prefer to age in place, according to a recent study conducted by Capital Caring Health, a nonprofit provider of elder, advanced illness, and hospice care, in partnership with WebMD. Staying at home can easily be done, in most cases, for a fraction of the cost of moving into an accessible facility.
“Home modification” refers to renovations or retrofits older adults may need to ensure the home is safe. This is best done by a certified aging in place specialist, or a company trained and certified in home modifications.
Begin with assessing your home for safety
Clear entrances and exits – Are they accessible? Are they clear of possible trip hazards, clutter, loose cables/cords and uneven transitions between rooms? The bedroom area should also be accessible, including attention to bed height for ease of entry.
Adequate lighting - It is very important to light dark areas like hallways and closets.
Accessible storage - Shelves should be accessible from the floor with needed items down on lower shelves or countertops for ease of access to prevent injuries. This is especially important in the kitchen.
Safe rest rooms - Up to 80 percent of at-home falls occur in the bathroom. Floors are slippery when wet, and there are hard surfaces, including cabinets and fixtures. Updating flooring to a slip-resistant flooring like vinyl plank is very reasonable to install. Then there are the bathtub and shower hazzards. Walk-in tubs and roll-in showers are great solutions for reducing falls, as are grab bars in and around the toilet and tub/shower area.
Tips to be sure you’re hiring the right contractor: After you receive a written assessment of the modifications that should be done:
Obtain at least three bids for the job.
Your local municipality’s buildings codes department and local inspectors can assist with contractor referrals.
Seek licensed, insured professionals who have been in business for a minimum of three years. They should be able to provide a copy of their license and insurance.
Note their communication style and ensure that it works for you. Remember, they are salesmen, and a good salesman can sell a hairbrush to a bald man.However, you can always verify what they are saying when they put it in writing.
Get references from at least three of their recent clients who have had similar work done.
Check their online reviews. People are not afraid of letting you know about their experience online.
Finally, check the Better Business Bureau for complaints that may not be made public elsewhere.
Joel P. Ambrose, president of HandyPro International, LLC, Farmington, Michigan, is a licensed contractor specializing in home modifications and professional handyman services. His licensed Aging in Place specialist, Keith Paul, has more than 25 years of experience. They can be reached at 734.254.9160, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.handypro.com.