With loved ones living longer and needing more care, many families struggle with the best way to help an aging relative. Completing a home modification geared towards accessibility and safety can help your loved one maintain independence and enjoy aging in place in familiar surroundings.

While it may seem like an expensive undertaking, there are a plethora of organizations and grants to help cover what Medicare doesn’t.

Contacting Ohio’s Agency on Aging can be helpful, as well as community development departments or local government programs.

Check out grants from organizations such as Rebuilding Together, which is a national nonprofit organization that helps with home modifications to promote safety and independence.

Here are some remodeling suggestions:

1. LIGHTING

  • Install brighter bulbs everywhere. New LED bulbs also reduce power consumption while making it easier to see.

2. DOORWAYS

  • Expand doorways to accommodate walkers, wheelchairs or mobility scooters, which don’t always fit through standard-sized doorways.
  • Adding a wheelchair ramp should be one of the first things on your list, as it eliminates the need to climb stairs to enter the home.
  • Consider replacing doorknobs with lever handles that are easier to grip and don’t require a twisting motion.
  • If your loved one is restricted by a wheelchair, they can’t reach the peephole to see who is knocking. Consider installing a camera for the door(s). There are many to choose from (Google Nest , Ring, Amazon, etc) and it is not essential to use a smartphone. There are easy to use and easy to see displays for the counter or end table.
  • Make sure there is a sturdy rug to prevent slip/fall from wet shoes.

3. STAIRS

  • Unless you move your loved one’s bedroom downstairs and eliminate any need to access the second floor of the house, you will need a stairway lift or at least, carpeted stairs or non-slip treads.
  • If a chair lift isn’t yet needed, be sure there are strong railings at every staircase.

4. FLOORS

  • Remove throw rugs, as they can easily become trip hazards.
  • Replacing flooring with a slip-resistant material such as vinyl, linoleum, bamboo or cork can give good traction while being more forgiving than tile or hardwood if they fall.
  • The 3M company makes traction strips with adhesive backing – just peel and stick. They are available for the interior, exterior, and bathtub/shower applications. You can find them in local hardware stores, Home Depot/Lowes, or Amazon.

5. BATHROOM

  • Adjust the temperature of the hot water heater to prevent burns. On the water heater, there is a knob with temperature markings – keep it beneath 120° F.
  • Install grab bars to help prevent falls.
  • Add textured, non-slip strips in the bathtub and shower.
  • A waterproof seat or chair in the shower can also be a big help.
  • High-profile toilets make sitting and standing easier – again install grab bars.
  • If your loved one is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, consider a pedestal or wall-mounted sink that a mobility device can fit beneath.
  • Consider replacing the sink mirror with one that tilts downward.
    ADA Standards for accessible design

6. KITCHEN

  • Adjust kitchen countertops if a wheelchair is needed so they are able to access them to prepare food.
  • Remove obstructions and trip-hazards (e.g., trash cans, bar stools, etc).
  • Move the contents of the top shelves down to lower shelves to reduce the reach.

It’s important to keep in mind, Medicare or private insurance usually covers medical equipment that’s installed in the home and there are home improvement grants to help with expenses, depending on your income and where you live. You can find more information on the Department of Health and Human Services’ ElderCare.gov website.

Encourage your loved one to update or complete their estate plans. There are really 5 basic estate planning documents:

  1. Will
  2. Durable Power of Attorney
  3. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  4. Living Will
  5. Revocable Trust

It is a great gift to have everything in order when they pass. It can keep your family strong and minimize taxes. Their savings and possessions can help the people that they love.

It starts with a conversation. Call estate planning attorney Chuck Bendig @ 614.878.7777 or visit our website for answers to frequently asked questions and details.

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