Part of the aging process means accounting for physical changes that can reduce one’s mobility. Whether individuals decide to age in an assisted living facility or in their homes is dependent on costs, needs and resources. The decision to remain in one’s home often means changes must be made to accommodate safety and accessibility. Contractors and companies that specialize in making homes accessible and safe for aging seniors can help. Living in one’s home throughout the aging process does not have to become an impractical choice or beyond one’s financial reach. Although needs may change, simple and affordable home modifications can make it easier to live safely. The following represents the top things seniors and their loved ones should consider before making structural changes to their homes:
1. Needs: What are your specific concerns and needs related to safety and accessibility? Seniors that use a wheelchair or walking equipment will likely need to replace stairs with ramps or stair lifts for greater accessibility. Consider whether it makes practical sense to make changes to any outdoor or indoor stairwells. What areas of the house will you continue to use? Some seniors decide that replacing an indoor staircase with a ramp is unnecessary if they do not need to gain access to specific portions of the house. For instance, a live-in caregiver may reside within the areas that are accessible via the staircase and the separation will serve both parties well.
2. Costs: What will it cost you to make the necessary changes to your home? Will you need financial assistance? It is best to make a list of the changes you will need to make and get an estimate from a licensed contractor. If the changes involve the purchase and installation of stair lifts, decks, ramps, support bars, and elevators, research the anticipated costs with several companies. These types of changes can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Several agencies and volunteer organizations, such as the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), may be able to provide financial assistance. Mortgage lenders may also offer products that can supply funds to pay for upgrades.
3. Modifications: Does carpet need to be removed and replaced with a slip-resistant alternative? Is any laminate or wood flooring potentially unsafe? Sometimes simple changes such as a rug will do the trick. Do the bathrooms need to have support bars or special tubs and showers installed? Do doorknobs and handles need to be replaced with arthritis-friendly levers? These are questions about modifications you will want to ask before contracting any work that needs to be done. It is best to list all modifications ahead of time so that all equipment and work that needs to be completed can be done at the same time.
Overall, these are some things to consider when making your Santa Rosa, CA home more accessible to seniors. Whether you are making changes to your home for yourself or for your loved ones, think about the needs, costs, and modifications involved so you can be fully prepared.