Vol 6 No. 11 - December 7, 2005

Aging in place helps elderly stay in own homes


By Louise Bolger

SUN STAFF WRITER

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. On December 7, 1941, the known world at that point in history changed forever, and the "greatest generation" was born.

With all the focus these days on baby boomers, we tend to forget that the parents of the baby boomers are at a time in their lives where they either already need help living day to day, or very shortly will. This is a tough generation, a lot less self indulgent than their children, and a lot less interested in glitzy new condos or media rooms.

Studies are beginning to show that as Americans get older, the vast majority would rather live in their own home than an assisted living facility. As a way to help seniors who feel this way, the Remodelers Council of the National Association of Home Builders has been proactive in helping seniors to modify their homes as they age.

"Aging-in Place" is the program they developed to advise senior citizens in the best way to modify their homes so they can remain in them throughout their maturing years. To meet the demand of a changing population, the National Association of Home Builders Remodelors Council created the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist designation program. This is the only program that teaches remodelers how to modify homes for the growing older population.

Their goal is to guide individuals on how basic alterations can make it easier and more affordable to carry out daily activities, such as bathing, cooking or climbing stairs, and can improve a home’s overall safety. Projects for aging-in-place remodeling vary from the installation of shower grab bars or adjustments of countertop heights, to private elevators and first-floor master suites.

Professionally done, these modifications are barely noticeable to visitors and homeowners can enjoy their home safely, without any institutional feel, and keep it aesthetically pleasing. Since 2002 there have been more than 800 professionals who have received this designation. If you’re interested in finding a trained home remodeler you can visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

There are two additional web-sites that can provide information on design ideas, useful products and how to find them, and professionals who can help homeowners plan and implement home modifications. An information booklet also can be downloaded, in addition to available on line newsletters. These sites are www.seniorsafehome.com and www.naipc.org.

Any home project or remodeling venture should always be carefully undertaken.

Written estimates, always important, ,can become life changing to homeowners on fixed incomes and with limited funds. Check your contractor out with the state office of consumer protection and the Better Business Bureau, and don’t let yourself get talked into unessential modifications.

With the baby boomers hot on the heels of their parents, there are sure to be many original and creative ways to age-in-place on the horizon. In the meantime, the greatest generation has earned their independence, and with today’s technology and innovate home improvements, they can stay self-sufficient and happier longer.

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