Home Remodeling

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multigeneration HomesMultigenerational homes were common during the Great Depression but declined once people rebounded economically. Now, as John Graham, coauthor of Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living, observes, the recent recession has prompted a move back from valuing independence to interdependence.

Some 51 million Americans (16.7% of the population) live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent with at least one other generation, under one roof, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The Pew analysis also reported a 10.5% increase in multi-generation households from 2007 to 2009. Now builders are responding with homes designed specifically for multi-generation homes, or that can be modified to support that option later.

Could this trend be a utopia of built-in child care, elder care, three square meals, and shared costs? Could it avoid isolation in old age? Read the rest of this entry »

Elders Get a CAPABLE Hand in Shoring Up Home Safety

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhyme

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

CAPABLE, which stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders, is a Baltimore-based project that helps low-income older adults “age in place” with assistance from occupational therapists, nurses and handymen.

The project is being closely watched by Medicaid officials in other states as a way to coordinate care, improve personal function, and avoid pricey and sometimes preventable nursing home admissions. Today, it’s difficult for Medicaid patients to get these services.

With more than $8 million in research money from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the project goes beyond home repair for health. It starts with a full-scale assessment of each participant’s needs.  Read the rest of this entry »

How do you prepare a home for the disabled or elderly?

Humpty Dumpty WalkingModern Health Talk features dozens of articles on getting your home ready for the disabled or elderly. (See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/tag/getting-ready/.) Some of the best ideas are included here.

What Changes Should be Made First?

Focus on Safety before convenience, Easy before difficult, Temporary before permanent, and Affordable before extravagant. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Be a Victim: Protect Yourself From Home Invasion

Home SecurityBy Amanda Benjamin

The thought of being the victim of a home invasion is upsetting, to say the least. While a crook breaks into your home when it’s empty, a home invader enters when you’re still there. A home invasion is far more traumatic than a burglary, and it can happen to any home in any neighborhood whenever.

However, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from a home invasion, both before it happens and if you find yourself the victim of being one. Here are some of the ways you can personally protect yourself:

Financial Precautions

  • Avoid ostentatious displays of luxury possessions like expensive cars, electronics, furs, jewelry, art or designer clothing.
  • Keep any cash, gold, silver and expensive jewelry in a deposit box at a bank — or very well hidden, in the home.
  • Consider installing a floor safe somewhere in your home.  Read the rest of this entry »

Slip Proofing Your Home

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhymeBy Brian Schiller

Here are just a few of the statistics:

  • Each year in the United States, one of every three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Half of which are repeat fallers.
  • For people aged 65-84 years, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death; for those aged 85 years or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.
  • Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people over the age of 65 and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury.
  • Half of all elderly adults (over the age of 65) hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the fracture.

Elderly people face an increased risk of slips, trips and falls due to diminished mobility, strength and balance that comes naturally with old age.  The increased risk of falling is coupled with a higher likelihood of health complications related to the fall. An elderly person faces twice the chance of death due to falls than younger people according to the Centers for Disease Control. Read the rest of this entry »

TEK Robotic Mobilization Device

TEK Robotic Mobilization DeviceHere’s a wheelchair alternative that may eventually save on the cost of some of the more expensive home modifications such as widening doorways. It’s a new concept that will surely improve but already holds much promise.

According to its website, Tek RMD, provides the opportunity of movement for people with paraplegia by enabling them to independently stand up in a completely upright position with correct posture, facilitating their movement and comfortable completion of their daily tasks indoors, such as in the home, office and shopping mall. Tek RMD is not an alternative to wheelchairs, it is a totally new concept, a new platform. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Renovations that can Save the Estate

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhyme

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

By Wayne Caswell

Scenario ONE

Jack and Jill were in their late 60s and had been married for 37 years when Jack suffered a severe stroke and required care beyond the abilities of his partner. After leaving the hospital, he went into a nursing home, and the family home was sold to pay for his care, which was expensive and projected exceed $84,000 per year.

Jill couldn’t maintain the big house herself and couldn’t afford it either, so she moved into a small apartment alone, without her lifelong mate. Being separated affected the couple’s morale, but worse was that it affected their health and their finances. Without long-term-care insurance, their life savings were depleted quickly before Medicaid finally kicked in. And now the grown children had two places to visit to support their declining parents. It didn’t have to be that way.

Scenario TWO

Just as in the nursery rhyme, Jack goes home and recovers more quickly there – in familiar and loving surroundings where Jane hires professionals to help care for him. That decision lets the couple stay together, and the kids have just one place to visit.

Universal Design was not offered when they built their home, and even though renovating the home for wheelchair accessibility often costs as much as $50,000, they felt it was financially better than the alternative. The project was entirely funded with home equity, so they didn’t even have to touch their retirement money, or the kid’s future inheritance. You see, Jack and Jill are like most American seniors, 90% of whom would rather live at home as long as possible and are willing to seek help to do that.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Avoid Contractor Scams

If you or someone you know was effected by storm damage, please share this article. It offers advice for hiring a contractor that I submitted in August in response to an eLocal poll on this topic, and it’s based on my experience as communications director for a nonprofit homeowner advocacy organization that I co-founded. UPDATE: New advice links added (11/1/2012 )

Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk, wins eLocal's Most Articulate Award

Hurricane Sandy slammed into the northeast this week and did lots of damage to homes, so if you need repairs, this article is about how to avoid potential scams.

 Avoid “storm chasers,” those unscrupulous contractors that show up after disasters to prey on people in a hurry to fix their homes. You can recognize them by the magnet signs on their trucks and their temporary offices and phone numbers, and you may also notice yard signs popping up everywhere to promote their services.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Design Makes Home Accessible

Houzz Tour, by rom architecture studioThis Houzz home tour is about beautiful design that also addresses the mobility needs of all the family members — two of whom are wheelchair users. It offers more space for wheelchairs, easier access to appliances and a curbless shower that fits this Seattle family’s needs.

Karen Braitmayer and her husband needed more square footage and were resigned to building a second story before connecting with an architect who understood structural modifications and was able to provide more livability and accessibility in the same 1,830 sq.ft. footprint. The architect knew that “Adding a second story would have ruined the architectural character of the home and required multiple elevator trips a day.”

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Should Make ‘Life-Long Homes’ A Priority

U.S. Should Make ‘Life-Long Homes’ A Priority – Henry Cisneros

Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros

Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros speaks at the Center for American Progress in Washington in 2009 (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

By Judith Graham (original article at Kaiser Health News)

What will it take for Americans to age successfully in place? This question has immediate importance for policymakers and families as an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 years old every day. It’s the subject of a new book, “Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America,” authored by more than a dozen leading aging and housing experts and co-edited by Henry Cisneros, a four-term mayor of San Antonio and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cisneros, who now runs a company specializing in urban real estate, spent an hour discussing his thoughts about aging in place with reporter Judith Graham. That interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. You start this book talking about your elderly mother.  Tell me about her.

A. My mom and dad bought the home across the alley from her mother’s home in 1945.  It was a lower-middle-class neighborhood of civil service workers – all Latinos. It had the feeling of a Norman Rockwell picture, only all the faces were brown.

My dad passed away in 2006 at age 89, having had a stroke some years before. But my mom, 87, lives there still. The house is essentially the same as it was, with some adjustments. We put a ramp on the side of the house leading to a deck. We raised the toilet, lowered the sinks, created a walk-in shower.  Changed the lighting in the den so my dad could read. Put in window guards, an alarm, and outdoor lighting for my mom because the neighborhood is somewhat in decline. Read the rest of this entry »

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