At Home in Berks August 2017 - 21
Is it better for most people to remain in their own
homes, when possible?
Obviously, there are circumstances that make it impossible
for someone to remain at home, and some homes are far more
difficult to renovate than others. There is evidence, however,
that people who can remain in their own homes are more likely
to retain a sense of purpose as they care for the home, choose
what meals they'll eat, perhaps do laundry and complete other
"People still want to be able to be functional and do the
work of the home," Sloan said. "It's all about maintaining your
What can you do to help someone who wishes to
remain in his or her home, but understands that some
changes must be made in order to be able to do so?
Nearly any home can be renovated or remodeled to accommodate aging in place, Sloan said. When planning a home
renovation aimed at aging in place, he might work with nurses,
physical and occupational therapists and other healthcare providers to understand the medical needs of his client.
He'll work extensively with the homeowner to understand
her preferences and vision for the future, and also will consult
with family members and social workers to better understand
the needs of his client and assure the most successful plan.
"It involves a team of people to get this done right and make
sure we have the best outcomes," Sloan said. "It's all about making people's homes accessible and enabling them to stay where
they're the most comfortable."
What kind of changes might you make in order to
make a home more accessible and livable for an older
Major changes sometimes are necessary, but often, just
small improvements can make a home more accessible and
comfortable, Sloan said. Small things like replacing turn knobs
with lever knobs can be extremely helpful to someone who has
painful arthritis. Widening doorways and altering the height
of counters can make the difference for whether someone in a
wheelchair can remain in the home. Stairs can be replaced by
ramps, or a motorized stair chair added.
Changing a bathtub or shower to a walk-in model that has
no step can make a bathroom much safer. Relocating a washer
and dryer can eliminate the need to carry laundry baskets up
and down steps. Lowering a kitchen island makes it accessible
to someone in a wheelchair, who now can use it for food preparation.
"There are many, many things that can be done to make it
possible for someone to successfully remain in their home,"
Sloan said. "Most people, as they age, will encounter some sort
of difficulty, but with some planning and some help from someone who understands what can be done, improvements can be
made to make it easier.
Would someone need to spend a lot of money in
order to be able to remain in his or her home?
Not always, Sloan said. Often, remodeling work can be done
in phases in order to spread out payments. And, he said, when
compared to the cost of moving to a facility, remodeling your
home to accommodate aging in place can make good economic
"There are a lot of advantages to staying put, including financially," Sloan said. "Remodeling your home can be economically
feasible when compared to the cost of an assisted living or
What might someone look at with an eye to the future when they purchase a home?
Ideally, everyone who builds or buys a home would keep
possible future needs in mind when doing so, Sloan said. Consider accessibility, lighting, steps, and other factors that could
affect the livability of the home in the future.
"It's hard to think about when you're a younger person buying a home," he said. "But, time passes quickly and most people,
as they age, develop some issues that can make it difficult to
stay in their homes. Thinking and planning ahead can help you
avoid some problems in the future."
Where can someone learn more about aging in place
and home renovations that make it possible to do so?
The National Aging in Place Council provides information
and resources for people who wish to remain in their own
homes. You can find it at www.aginginplace.org. Aginginplace.
com is a website that explores the trend of staying in your own
home and provides ideas of how to do so. You can find a listing
of builders and remodelers who are certified by the National
Association of Homeowners as aging in place specialists on the
Association's website at www.nahb.org.
AUGUST 2017 AT HOME IN BERKs
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