By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Number of seniors modifying homes on the rise
Aging in place is a topic that becomes more important as our population skews older. Recent statistics from an AARP study indicate that 80 percent of those older than 45 want to remain in their homes as they age, even if they need assistance to do so.
That's why we are seeing more and more seniors modifying their homes. Home modifications today come in two categories: updating/remodeling to make it easier for seniors to live comfortably and taking advantage of today's technologies to make it safer for seniors to age in place and help their loved ones monitor their daily activities.
When determining which modifications to make, it is best to analyze a person's particular needs or disabilities and then do a room-by-room assessment to determine what modifications may be needed. That will help you determine whether you need minor fixes, like improving the lighting throughout the home, or major renovations like installing a wheelchair lift. Ball State University's WELLCome Home Project,www.bsu.edu/wellcomehome, has a great Home Assessment questionnaire you can use to help you determine what modifications you may need to make.
Keith Paul, president and founder of HandyPro, (734) 254-9160, www.handypro.com, and a certified aging-in-place specialist, said: "Senior home modifications now comprise 20 percent of our business, and it is growing rapidly each year. With the high cost of assisted living facilities, it is often more cost effective for seniors to modify so they can age in place."
He said HandyPro has been doing larger renovations for seniors such as wheelchair ramps or bathroom remodeling to install a walk-in tub and grab bars.
But he also sees some people needing minor modifications such as widening doorways, installing touch-sensitive faucets or lever door handles that are easier to use for people with serious arthritis.
In addition to making modifications to a home, there are plenty of technologies to help seniors live independently. For example, a personal emergency response system can be installed in the home and uses an auto-dial speakerphone coupled with a button or pendant that the person presses to be connected to a 24-hour call center in the case of emergencies. Companies like Philips Lifeline,www.philips.lifelinesystems.com, Guardian, www.guardianmedicalmonitoring.com and ADT, www.adt.com all offer this emergency service.
There are also a growing number of software and smartphone apps available to be used by those living independently to enable them to connect with family members outside the home.
SKJM, LLC's iCam application for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is now also available on Android-powered devices. It allows you to monitor multiple live video feeds over Wi-Fi or cellular, enabling children of aging parents to check on them visually to ensure they are doing well. Details are available at www.SKJM.com.
Iconosys' Tell My Geo, www.tellmygeo.com, is an Android smartphone app that can help a loved one track Mom or Dad's whereabouts by sending regular location updates to the smartphone using GPS technology. The app also has large buttons to press to call for help in an emergency.
Of course, a stand-by generator is one of the best ways to ensure they always have the lights, appliances and heating and cooling in the event the power goes out. Bratcher Electric, (877) 722-0037, www.bratcherelectric.com; Family Heating, Cooling and Electrical, (734) 422-8080, www.familyheating.com; and Flame Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical, (586) 582-1700, www.flamefurnace.com, are good companies to talk with regarding the installation of a stand-by generator.
Fortunately with some home modifications and use of today's technologies, you can still say "There is no place like home" in your retirement years.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his "Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.