When a family faces an unexpected health crisis, barriers preventing a family member from receiving in-home care may seem insurmountable: Climbing stairs may be impossible because of mobility issues; counters loom too high or doorways too narrow to access in a wheelchair.
Modifying a home so that loved ones can “age-in-place” can be a viable alternative to moving a family member to a nursing home or other care facility. According to AARP, around 90 percent of seniors plan on living in their own homes for at least five to 10 years after turning 65. They realize seniors who age-in-place tend to have a better quality of life. Taking steps to enable them to continue to live at home can help them maintain or improve their physical and mental health. Staying in their homes when medical issues arise also can insulate them from viral and bacterial infections that are a constant source of concern in congregate care facilities.
But determining what modifications are best for individual situations can be overwhelming without professional help.
A starting point for approaching an aging-in-place project to contact a certified aging-in-place consultant or occupational therapist. These trained professionals can recommend equipment and modifications which would enable an individual to age in place in either a new home or one being remodeled.
Aging in place consultants can be certified by various professional organizations including the National Association of Homebuilders which offers certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) Program and the Living in Place Institute which offers a certified living in a place (CLIPP) program. Those interested can contact sponsoring organizations to identify aging-in-place professionals who meet certification requirements. To maintain their credentials, certified aging-in-place professionals must participate in continuing education programs.
Aging-in-place consultants can assess clients’ needs and come up with recommendations for what they may need to stay safely and securely in their own homes. Modifications may include installation of grab bars, wheelchair ramps, task lighting and other equipment as well as other accommodations that meet a client’s individual needs.
County human services departments and municipalities can provide listings of contractors and remodelers who can implement aging-in-place specifications outlined in certified professionals’ recommendations. Big-box and specialty retailers sell many products designed to meet the needs of those desiring to age-in-place.
One of the fastest growing niche markets in real estate, homes with aging-in-place modifications can offer new hope those who want to retain as much of their quality of life as possible when facing challenges associated with failing health.
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