Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

Read More …

Aging at Home: Common Problems-Solutions

Here at Modern Health Talk, you’ll find hundreds of solutions for safe & independent aging-in-place, including dozens of articles about the principles of Universal Design, and numerous photo examples on our Pinterest boards. But today’s guest post brings together many solutions in one article.

Aging at Home: Common Problems & Solutions

For wheelchair accessibility, this home had a ramp installed. It's a removable model, but more permanent designs are available.

By Jessica Hoefer (Here’s the original.)

The most common problems as you age in your home:

As we get older, many of our homes no longer work as well for us. But most of us want to remain in the homes we love.

Fortunately, there are many solutions, and there are trained experts in home modification all over the country. There are also new tools to address the specific issues of aging.

Home Advisor has joined with the National Aging in Place Council® to create this guide to making your home work for you. Here you will find: Read More …

Presidential Report on Independence Technology

Independence TechnologyIn an 80-page report issued this week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), made several recommendations to address America’s aging population with independence technology. They include:

  • mHealth innovation,
  • remote patient monitoring,
  • telehealth expansion and reimbursement,
  • broadband access for seniors,
  • more sophisticated wheelchairs, and even
  • home designs for sustained independence.

What follows is a highlighted extract from the report’s Executive Summary. Read More …

A Bathroom Accessibility Remodel

My 3/23/11 article, You Can’t be too Careful, introduced steps I took getting ready for Grandma to move in. This article follows up with details about changes that were needed for bathroom accessiblity.  The objective of these two articles is to encourage you to prepare BEFORE there’s a need when it’s cheaper.

Remodeling a bathroom for a disabled grandmaDecisions

There are lots of choices to make when remodeling a home. We wanted to make things easier for Grandma but without degrading the value of the home, and hopefully increasing its value if possible.

Changing the master bath would not have fit in with our future plans, so we only considered the other two bathrooms. They were virtually mirrored twins, with standard tub, commode, counter and sink configurations. We weighed several options, including going with a special handicap shower set up, or using a general contractor and our own design ideas.

We chose a local contractor that specialized in baths and kitchens and went with a simplified plan that would make the bathroom accessible without making it permanently “handicapped.” For better or worse, we made the design decisions ourselves.

I hoped the remodel would be complete in a couple of weeks. Yeah, right! There was much more to remodeling than I considered.

Is the door to the bath wide enough? Is there room to make it wider?  How can we make the sink accessible for someone in a wheel chair? Do we want a handicap accessible shower floor, like the ones you see in some hotel rooms? How high should the toilet be? How much room does Grandma’s bathroom stuff take up? Can she access everything? Will she need to?

Read More …

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.

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Designing Homes for Older Adults

The Accessible Home

 

Designing Homes for Older Adults

There’s a housing crisis looming for seniors. With baby boomers entering their retirement years at a rapid rate, most housing is not keeping up with their needs. Most older adults say they want to stay in their homes as they age, but most homes are not designed for older bodies that have a hard time with stairs, slippery shower surfaces or hard-to-turn door knobs. Read More …

Is your House making you Sick?

AlergiesIdeally, your home is a calm and quiet place of refuge, where you can seek solace and relax from the real world and just enjoy its tranquil beauty. Of course, it might be hard to enjoy a peaceful home when every few minutes you are sneezing, wheezing or coughing.

While you might initially attribute these symptoms to whatever bug happens to be going around; however, if they persist despite medical intervention and plenty of chicken soup — or if you feel better once you are at work or out running errands — it might be time to take a hard look at your house as the culprit. The following home issues might be the cause of your troubling symptoms: Read More …

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

With age comes wisdom, and thankfully, retirement. As you move from the hectic life of work and obligations to a home-centric life of leisure, you may need to take a look at the details of your home, particularly safety. Look to create a safer haven for you to age in, but don’t forget about style. There are several interior design tricks you can add to make sure you are protected without feeling like you’re restricted. Here are just a few areas to think about:  Read More …

Find PURPOSE to Prevent Empty-Nest Boredom

Find PURPOSE to prevent Empty Nest BoredomThe kids are grown and out of the house, leaving you with more time on your hands than you’ve had in decades. While that feeling of freedom can be gratifying at first, after a while, it can also start to feel a little boring, especially if you’ve also retired. In fact, launching your children out into the world is considered to be one of the most difficult life transitions to face.

If your life has gotten rather mundane as of late, instead of sinking further into the doldrums, consider taking part in one or more of these activities that are sure to prevent empty-nest boredom, soothe your soul, and boost your happiness levels. Comment below to let us know about your favorite activity, even if it’s not on this list. Read More …

Home Safety Solutions for Independent Seniors

 

EDITOR: This  byline article from Medical Alert Advice is republished with permission
because an enterprising young girl brought it to our attention (story at end).

 

As a senior citizen, you have a variety of housing options available to meet your needs. Active and independent older adults sometimes choose to live in adult retirement communities that provide recreational and social activities, while seniors who might need some extra help at home may benefit from assisted living facilities. As your needs change, living arrangements that provide more assistance, such as an adult family home, residential health care facility, or nursing home, may also be available.

However, more adults are choosing to remain in their own homes or apartments for as long as possible. Seniors are becoming more independent and are living on their own longer than ever before. While this is great news, it is also important that seniors and their families ensure that their homes are safe. By following some simple tips, you can ensure that your home is safe and enjoy your independence for as long as possible. Read More …

Housing an Aging Population

U.S. Unprepared to Meet the Housing Needs
of Its Aging Population

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies & AARP Foundation Release New Report

Washington, D.C. & Cambridge, MA (9/2/2014) – America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group, concludes a new report released today by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation. According to Housing America’s Older Adults—Meeting the Needs of An Aging Population, the number of adults in the U.S. aged 50 and over is expected to grow to 133 million by 2030, an increase of more than 70 percent since 2000 (see interactive map). But housing that is affordable, physically accessible, well-located, and coordinated with supports and services is in too short supply.

Aging Brings Risks

Read More …

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multi-generation HomesMulti-generational 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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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 More …

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

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

Henry CisnerosBy 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 More …