Home Modifications for Aging in Place
February 18, 2015
A critical part of a geriatric assessment is home safety. Why?
Falls are the number 1 cause of death for older people 65 or over. On fifth of all households are maintained by person 65 or older. Why do older people wish to live at home - to maintain independence? With retirement nest eggs shrunken because of the recession, and 90 percent of older adults indicating they want to age in place at home. Yet older people can become more vulnerable if they live alone.
By 2020, the number of persons over age 85 who live alone is expected to double to 2.3 million. The majority of older women over 75 live alone. But older women in many cases have not been trained to do home repairs. Most lived traditional marriages. Older people develop chronic diseases that prevent them from doing simple or especially complex home repairs.
People over 65 tend to live in houses that need more repairs. Over 60% of older people live in homes 20 years or older so in need of renovation. Alarmingly, older adults who suffer dementia are even more vulnerable. Therefore, simple alteration can prevent 1/3 to 1/2 of all accidents with seniors. Modification of home can promote independence by preventing mishap that lead to the ER and maybe a nursing home. An example is if the problem -difficulty getting out of the shower then the intervention that a geriatric care manager or aging professional would suggest is install grab bars.
The first step is figuring out what home modifications you need based upon the following three criteria: Safety, Accessibility, Adaptability. There are several resources that publish comprehensive lists on line such as: www.rebuildingtogether.org and www.eldercare.gov where you can get a better idea of what you need and how to go about getting it done.