He could move to 1-floor apartment or an assisted living facility, nevertheless like most older people, he wants to stay put. “I have a lot of not bad memories here,” he said.
So he turned to Mr. MacNeill, a longtime contractor in nearby Pine Brook. In 2014, Mr. MacNeill took a three-day course through the National Association of Home Builders to become a Certified Aging in Place Specialist or CAPS.
Older people contain the highest rate of homeownership inside the country — about 80 percent, according to a 2016 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The great majority live in single-family homes, most of them poorly suited for the disabilities common in later life.
The center has looked at three of the most important accessibility features which allow people to move safely around their living spaces: entrances without steps, single-floor living, in addition to wide hallways in addition to doorways which can accommodate wheelchairs.
“Less than 4 percent of the U.S. housing stock has all three of those,” said Jennifer Molinsky, a senior research associate at the center.
Add two more important elements for aging in place — doors with lever handles, in addition to light switches in addition to electrical outlets which can be reached by a wheelchair — in addition to the proportion drops to 1 percent.
You’ll often hear older people vow which they won’t leave their homes except “feet first.” Without modifications, however, the design of most older Americans’ homes could eventually thwart their owners’ desire to stay in them.
Solving which problem, individually or collectively, means confronting certain obstacles.
About 3,500 CAPS graduates across the country — builders in addition to remodelers, occupational therapists, Internal designers — retrofit homes to help people remain in them safely, said Dan Bawden, a Houston contractor who helped develop the program in 2001.
I asked how many This particular would likely take to serve all the older in addition to disabled Americans who want to age in place. “Ten times the number we have currently,” he said. Moreover, participants inside the program remain unevenly distributed, clustered in cities.
Many of the nation’s more than 0,000 occupational therapists also assess homes in addition to recommend safety modifications, said Scott Trudeau, who manages productive aging programs for the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The process works best, he said, when CAPS-trained remodelers in addition to occupational therapists team up, as a growing number have. Mr. Bawden’s Legal Eagle Contractors (he’s also a lawyer) works using a therapist, Kate Akers, for example.
“She’s better at spotting problems than I am,” he said. “Then I come in in addition to make the adjustments based on what she suggests.”
A survey of remodelers last year by the National Association of Home Builders found which the most common aging-in-place modifications were bathroom grab bars in addition to higher toilets, followed by curbless showers, widened doorways in addition to added lighting.
Architects have long argued for such features, known collectively as “universal design” — elements which promote independence for disabled in addition to older people in addition to prove useful for everyone else, too.
“If your aging mother will be going to come live with you, you can pour a gently sloping sidewalk to your front door” which allows her to enter without climbing steps, Mr. Bawden pointed out. “nevertheless a zero-step entrance will be also not bad for a mom with twins in a stroller.”
various other groups are also tackling home accessibility, including nurses, academic researchers, in addition to another certification program called the Certified Living in Place Professional program. Local agencies on aging or senior centers may provide referrals, too.
Yet even as more professionals enter the field, costs present a major barrier.
Though prices vary by location, most CAPS remodelers can install two grab bars for a modest $0 to $300. Figure $60 to $0 to replace a doorknob with an easier-to-maneuver lever, Mr. Bawden said, in addition to $175 to $250 for every relocated light switch or outlet.
nevertheless replacing a tub using a roll-in shower will run $8,000 to $10,000, he said. A brand new bathroom incorporating universal design elements could top $25,000.
Homeowners will find scant government help with which expense. Some states reimburse homeowners through tax credits or Medicaid, in addition to the Department of Veterans Affairs offers some grants. (This particular will be paying the bill for Mr. Goldberg’s $7,900 renovation, for instance, in addition to buying the brand new stair lift.)
nevertheless home modification remains essentially a privately financed undertaking, even though This particular could help prevent far more expensive hospitalizations in addition to nursing home admissions. A bill to offer seniors $30,000 in federal tax credits for modifications was introduced in Congress last year with bipartisan support, nevertheless This particular has made little headway.
“How do we structure these programs so they’re available not just to the few, nevertheless to the many?” Mr. Trudeau asked. “C.M.S.” — the federal Medicare in addition to Medicaid agency — “needs to start thinking about This particular.”
Another obstacle will be homeowners’ own discomfort with aging in addition to the adjustments This particular brings. Some start adapting their homes before they need to, nevertheless others resist.
“which’s the biggest hurdle to overcome, will be someone admitting they need these modifications,” Mr. MacNeill said. “The adult children see the writing on the wall, nevertheless the parent will be saying: ‘I don’t need which. I’ll be all right.’”
Yet older adults are fervent remodelers: Those over age 55 account for more than half of all home improvement spending, the Harvard study reported.
One way to incorporate universal design in more seniors’ homes, then, will be to make This particular part of every renovation. Widening an existing doorway can cost $2,000, nevertheless a 34-inch doorway adds little to the cost of a brand new kitchen or bath project which already involves moving walls.
Lynn Masiello, an Internal designer in addition to CAPS participant in Verona, N.J., took which approach using a recent condo renovation.
Her 66-year-old client wasn’t particularly interested in producing her home more accessible. nevertheless Ms. Masiello tactfully pointed out the attractiveness of contemporary grab bars (she used polished nickel) in addition to made sure the brand new refrigerator had a freezer on the bottom.
She suggested textured kitchen floors which wouldn’t be slippery. in addition to because aging eyes can lose depth perception, the coloring of the kitchen counters contrasts with the floor.
Her client was delighted. “I imagine I could live here forever,” she said.
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